Some delightful surprises in the garden this week.

We found a few nice surprises in the garden today. Although busy watering the Woodland Garden, Harriet Carter took a moment to show me something she didn’t expect to see. A few of the tiny Arum Maculatum have pushed up leaves possibly in response to sunlight returning to their tiny border of the garden.dsc_0089 dsc_0091

arummaculatum Here is the Arum as it looked when blooming last May.

Ruth Johnson pointed out yellow iris is reblooming in the Fragrance Garden.dsc_0080

In the Cooks Garden, Jean Meinke was happy to find cilantro returning and how nicely the new beds and covered crops are dealing with the cooler temps. Frost tonight!dsc_0098 dsc_0095

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dsc_0088 Janelle Bryant stopped for a moment to smile for the camera before returning to cutting back the showy maple-leaf hydrangea.

During each meeting, the group gathers to get garden updates from Leslie.dsc_0073 dsc_0072

More blooming surprises in the Four Seasons and Mailbox Beds. Don’t you just love seeing the mums still putting on a show??

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This Saturday, October 29th is the final Saturday workday scheduled. If you have time in the morning, even if only for an hour, come on out to help and take a walk around the garden.

Happy gardening!






Summer weather with Fall cheer

Another beautiful Tuesday morning out at the Teaching Garden with a large turnout of Master Gardeners. A lot of projects are underway.

Master Gardeners, Hank, Janelle, Bob and Ross rolled up their sleeves to remove Blue Switch Grass, Panicum Virgatum “Heavy Metal” that had overgrown its space.

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Not an easy task; it took a good hour of digging and encouragement before the clump yielded. A smaller portion of the original plant was replanted; the remainder can be found potted up in the sale nursery, ready to be brought to your garden!

dsc_0030 dsc_0031 dsc_0029 Joe took a few minutes to show off the newer cold compost “bin” has been added to with donations strictly from the Cooks Garden. Joe said that he’ll “turn” the compost, but that it’s not as intensive as hot compost. The finished product is intended to be returned to the Cooks Garden, so the team will be confident in what they are adding to that garden.

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One of these days, Amye and Jean will have a moment to pose for the camera, but not today. So much to be done!

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Ross Eagles, Lily Expert and Master Gardener, was helping in the garden this morning. He noticed a few lilies were laying on top of the soil in the White Garden and gave them a hand and re-planted them. First, he removed a few roots, advising that there should be an equal ratio of roots to leaves. One plant had a rhizome that was too large for the leaves; he broke this where it had a natural bend and replanted. Ross noted that the break would heal almost immediately providing a chemical response against disease.

Another important project that Leslie hopes to complete this Fall is to take apart and rebuild the rock wall in the Herb Garden.

dsc_0026  Another Master Gardener that is always busy and on the move is Donna Seckar.

The final scheduled Saturday workday is October 29th. Tuesday morning workdays are planned to go through November 15th, weather permitting.

Hope you’ve all been enjoying this splendid weather.

Happy gardening!



October Saturday in the Garden: Weeds and Lawns

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.

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dsc_0993  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.

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dsc_0996  Ruth Johnson, Master Gardener Volunteer (with Nancy Berlin) introduced the audience to Garden or Tall Phlox, Phlox paniculata.

jeff-pic-2  Garden phlox grow to 3’ tall, their scent is slightly spicy and they bloom for many weeks from August through October.

dsc_0999  Paige Thacker, Unit Coordinator and Horticulture Extension Agent, shared one of her favorite garden specimens, Amsonia (Amsonia Hubrichtii).

amsonia  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.

dsc_1001  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.

Happy gardening!


Take time to enjoy the little things

It’s always nice to arrive at the Teaching Garden on a clear, not-yet-warm morning to hear these dedicated Master Gardeners laughing and having a little impromptu tug-of-war while digging up sweet potatoes. Gently dug by hand, the crop was decidedly small but no less treasured. Thank you Amye Foelsch for sharing your photos.

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You had to really keep up with Bob Carter and David Robison as they jumped in to help everywhere in the garden today. First, they were in the Compost area.


Then, manually edging gardens that were mechanically edged last week.


Bob and David jumped in to help in the BB&B garden by removing a old post that had been used for the Coral Honeysuckle to climb.


dsc_0992-2 Kathy and Maritza took a moment to smile for the camera while tidying up the Lavender Bed.

dsc_0978-2 Terry Madden was reviewing with Shirley Jones a bit of what is planned for the BB& B bed next year.

dsc_0954-2 And Terry still had a moment to smile for the camera.

dsc_0959-2  Mums jussssst starting their display at the Mailbox Garden.

dsc_0955-2 There’s a tiny little ladybug on a leaf of the butterfly weed scouting the aphid eggs near the blooms at the top.

dsc_0985-2 Red Admiral butterfly hiding in plain view among the lovely marigolds. What a beauty!

Seed pods of False Blue Indigo in the Four Seasons Bed. Look at what was hiding a bit deeper in that same plant; a newly-laid praying mantis egg case! dsc_0973-2 dsc_0965-2

Happy gardening!


What a beautiful fall morning to be out in the Teaching Garden!

Tuesday morning arrived with cool temps that may have encouraged the large, energized group of Master Gardener Volunteers and Interns to come out.

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Hank Spencer replaced the old wood in one of the Bio-beds. Did you know there is a particular side that should face the soil?

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MG Intern, Don Dallmon, brought his own lawn edger and went to work beautifying the beds while it was still cool Tuesday morning. What a labor savings this was and the beds look exquisite. Thanks Don!

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dsc_0951-2  The new informational signs have been installed over the compost bins. No question about what goes where now.

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Cooks Garden Co-leader, Amye Foelsch, shows us the harvest is slowing, but the vegetables still look delish!

Critters out at the garden this morning.

 img_2076 A grasshopper. Thank you Harriet for sharing your pic.

dsc_0944-2 A hummingbird nectaring at the long-lasting blooms of “Hot Lips” in the 4 Seasons Garden.

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Iris — wowzer!. Master Gardener, Ruth Johnson, shared her secret to them re-blooming in the fall is to not let them dry out during summer’s heat.

dsc_0921-2 Leonides, “Lions Ears”. This blogger has been anticipating seeing this plant bloom since early spring after hearing Teaching Garden Coordinator, Leslie Paulson, share her story of bringing them to the garden.

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Master Gardener, Harriet Carter, pointed out a tiny, precious Toad Lily in bloom this week in the Woodland Garden.

dsc_0926-2 Lovely green foliage of Sarcococca, “Sweet Box” against the leaf litter and speckled sun also in the Woodland Garden.

Take a few minutes to come out and walk the gardens even if just to enjoy the sun and the fall colors.

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Happy gardening!