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Green Spring Master Gardeners Program


  • Green Spring Gardens
  • Green Spring Gardens
  • Green Spring Gardens
  • Green Spring Gardens
  • Green Spring Gardens
  • Green Spring Gardens
  • Green Spring Gardens

[ 4603 Green Spring Road ] [ Alexandria, VA 22312 ] [ 703-642-5173 ]

Master Gardener Program

VCE MASTER GARDENERS

OUR ROOTS

HISTORY OF GREEN SPRING GARDENS MASTER GARDENERS


VCE Master Gardener programs first began in the United States in 1972 at Washington State University, where Cooperative Extension Agents trained interested volunteers to serve as a community resource for reliable horticultural information. University affiliated Master Gardener programs are now active in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Virginia, there are 62 active Master Gardener units affiliated with Virginia Tech.

In January 2002, a VCE Master Gardener Training program was launched at Green Spring Gardens to complement and expand the outreach of the existing Fairfax County program beyond plant clinics and diagnostic labs, and to meet the increased demand for training locally. Training sessions are held during daytime hours at Green Spring Gardens Horticultural Center. Including the service commitment that follows the training, the program is designed to be completed in a year. Since 2002, over 280 volunteers have received training at Green Spring Gardens.

HOW WE GROW

BY VOLUNTEERING AT

BY SOWING SEEDS IN OUR COMMUNITIES THROUGH OUR

  • Adult Educational Seminars including our annual EcoSavvy Symposium
  • Ready, Set, GrowTM gardening curriculum for elementary students
  • Speakers Bureau Presentations on sustainable gardening practices
  • The Master Gardeners of the Green Spring High Tech Team are proud to make available the following presentations for the community. Each presentation (listed by topic) has colorful slides and speaker talking points in the notes view of the presentation for a 60 minute talk. Each presentation also has a list of recommended handouts.

    The presentations are sponsored by the VA Cooperative Extension and are supported by Green Spring Gardens and the Park Authority. Please complete and submit the form below to request a presentation for your group:
  • Support of the VCE Advice Help Line 703-324-5369 or mgfairfax@vt.edu
  • Staff Information Booths
  • Care of the Demonstration Gardens at Green Spring Gardens

RESOURCES

Virginia Cooperative Extension Publications can be found at pubs.ext.vt.edu

WORDS TO GROW BY

RIGHT PLANT ... RIGHT PLACE

Learn why this is the ROOT of all we do....

A Long Winter's Rest: Preparing the Garden for the Off-Season

Mother Nature is showing us that it's time to put the garden to bed for the winter.  The leaves are falling, the lawn has turned green and the annuals are looking tired.

Take a look at your TURF. It will survive winter and come back more vigorously in spring if you do a few things. The fall and winter months are ideal times to make lime applications. The first steps towards correcting an existing problem is to test your soil. You can get a soil test at the front desk at Green Spring Gardens or at www.ext.vt.edu.  It's a good idea to test your soil every three years. To get additional information on lawn care check out the Virginia Tech "Fall Lawn Care" publication. http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-520/430-520-pdf.pdf .  It is also a good idea to aerate the lawn and to continue watering until it turns brown.

If you have a VEGETABLE GARDEN pull up old vines and vegetable plants. Insect pests that feed on these plants often lay their eggs on the old plants. If they are not diseased, work the old plants back into the garden soil. In addition to garden debris, you can add other organic material into the soil. Well  rotted manure, compost, peat or leaves will work.

All ANNUAL FLOWERS should be pulled if diseased and put in the trash. If disease free compost them or dig them into the garden. WEEDS should be pulled wherever they are in the garden. Weeds that are spread by seeds can produce thousands of seeds so get rid of them now.

The days are shorter and the temperatures dropping causing the deciduous TREE and SHRUBS to drop leaves and prepare for winter dormancy. Limit fertilization in fall, since nitrogen stimulates late season growth and delays dormancy.  Continue to water trees and shrubs to send them into winter with ample moisture.

For more information visit the Green Spring Gardens Library or check out the publication list at Virginia Tech, http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/

Shade Loving Plants

The Virginia Native Plant Society suggests replacing English Ivy (Hedera helix) with some of these alternatives:

EVERGREEN OR SEMI-EVERGREEN FOR SHADE

Creeping phlox
Creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) mats together to make a spectacular display of blue/violet in early spring and stays low and green throughout the rest of the year.
Virginia ginger
Virginia ginger (Hexastylis virginica) is a beautiful evergreen ground-hugger.
Foam Flower
Foamflower (Tiarella codifolia) has frothy little spikes of white flowers in May and the foliage lasts all year long.

EVERGREEN FOR SEMI-SHADE

Mouse-eared coreopsis
Mouse-eared coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata) with yellow blooms attracts many butterflies and bees.

DECIDUOUS FOR SHADE

Violets
Violets (Viola Canadensis) disappear in winter, but they provide nectar in early spring and are hosts to several butterfly larvae. Ants will spread the seed around.

VINES

Virginia creeper
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is taller and less dense than English ivy, but looks beautiful under trees. It will grow up trees without harming them because it is deciduous. Bird love the berries. It is aggressive, so be sure to put it in a place that you don't mind it spreading.

HERBACEOUS PLANTS

Virginia knotweed
Virginia knotweed (Tovara virginiaa/Persicaria virginiaa) will completely fill a large space in a couple of years and looks very nice in a "shaggy, woody way." In addition to the straight peices there is a colorful cultivar with variegate leaves, tiny red flowers and seedheads, called "Painter's Palette." Cardinals and other birds love the seed or knotweed.
Heart-leafed aster
Heart-leafed aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium formerly Aster cordifolius) is similar to white wood aster, but with pale blue flowers.
Zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) is very attractive to pollinators in fall.

Sun Loving Plants

EVERGREEN OR SEMI-EVERGREEN TREES FOR SUN

American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) – tough as nails
American Holly (Ilex opaca) 'Old Heavy Berry' is a very hardy, vigorous, and fruitful cultivar
Austrian Black Pine (Pinus nigra)
Bull Bay or Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta) 'Burfordii' - Burford holly is a large shrub or small tree
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) – a native
Japanese Cryptomeria  (Cryptomeria japonica) – dense conifer tolerant of harsh, hot sites
Mexican Stone Pine (Pinus cembroides)
Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) red- or yellow-fruited cultivars are available

EVERGREEN OR SEMI-EVERGREEN SHRUBS FOR SUN

China Rose (Rosa x odorata 'Mutabilis')
Chinese Holly (Ilex cornuta) – there are dwarf forms available
Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) – a butterfly magnet with pink flowers all summer
Leatherleaf Mahonia (Mahonia bealei) – fruit eaten by birds – may be considered invasive by some
Leatherleaf Viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum) – may lose leaves in severe winters
Nandina -Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) – sterile cultivars preferred – considered invasive
Oregon Grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium) – bright yellow flowers in early spring
Pyracantha/Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea) – red or orange berries in winter.  Prefers poor soil.
Wintergreen Barberry (Berberis julianae) – reliably evergreen but has thorns

VINES FOR SUN

American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)
American Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) – potentially invasive
Carolina jessamine (Carolina jessamine) – yellow flowers
Clematis (Clematis sp.)
Climbing Hydrangea; several plants are known as climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea anomala – from China), (Hydrangea petiolaris – Japan and Korea – perhaps subspecies of anomala), (Pileostegia viburnoides)
Kiwi (Actinidia sp.) Actnidia arguta is hardy but may be invasive
Native Coral Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens – hummingbirds feed on it
Native Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)
Passion Flower (Passiflora sp.) – potentially invasive

HERBACEOUS PLANTS FOR SUN

Annuals:

Cosmos (Cosmos sp.)
Larkspur (Consolida sp.) – best if seed is planted in fall
Marigolds (Tagetes sp.)
Pansies (Viola sp) – not happy in hot weather
Petunias (Petunia sp.) and (Caleobrachoa sp.) – smaller flowers than Petunia
Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa columbaria) – deer resistant, drought tolerant
Portulaca or Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora) –drought tolerant – rarely eaten by deer – self-sows
Red Salvia/Scarlet Sage (Salvia splendens)
Sunflowers (Helianthus sp.)
Vinca (Cathyranthus hybrids) – drought tolerant and totally deer-proof – will self-sow
Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) – drought tolerant and not eaten by deer – may self-sow

Biennials:

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Clary Sage (Salvia schlerea) – spectacular flower spikes to 4.5 feet high
Foxglove (Digitalis sp.)
Hollyhock (Alcea sp.)
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)

Perennials:

Bee Balm (Monarda sp.)
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) – this is an herbaceous perennial – dies to the ground in Fall
Columbine (Columbine sp.) – short-lived perennials but self-sow
Coreopsis/Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolate) – spreads by stolons – many cultivars
Sage (Salvia sp.)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) many cultivars available

TEST YOUR SOIL: www.soiltest.vt.edu/

A GOOD READ

Adult Book Suggestions:

  • Bringing Nature Home, Doug Tallamy
  • Garden Insects of North America, Whitney Cranshaw
  • Attracting Birds, Butterflies and other Backyard Wildlife, David Mizejewsiki National
  • Wildlife Federation
  • Planting in a Post-Wild World, Thomas Rainer and Claudia West
  • Invasive Plants, Sylvan Ramsey Kaufman
  • Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants, C. Colston Burrell
  • The Garden Primer, Barbara Damrosch
  • The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer, Stephanie Cohen and Nancy J. Ondra
  • Taylor's Master Guide to Gardening

Children's Book Suggestions:

  • The Curious Garden, Peter Brown
  • NICKY THE NATURE DETECTIVE, Lena Anderson and Ulf Suedberg
  • The Gardening Book, Jane Bull
  • Ten Seeds, Ruth Brown
  • Have You Seen Trees, Joanne Oppenheim, Illustrated by Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng
  • Butterfly House, Eve Bunting, Illustrated by Greg Shed
  • The Flower Hunter…William Bartram: America's First Naturalist, Deborah Kogan Ray

Want to become a Master Gardener?

Find Your Passion In order to become a Master Gardener (MG), approved candidates must complete a 13 week course that meets Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 pm and one Saturday lab. Included in the training course are assignments and exams. Once trainees complete the classroom portion of the training, they graduate to MG interns. MG interns are required to complete, within one year, 50 volunteer project hours including 15 hours working at the MG Help Desk in order to become fully certified. There is a $260 fee due with the application. MGs retain their certification by completing 20 hours of volunteer service hours and 8 hours of continuing education classes per year.

The Green Spring Gardens MG training program is designed to prepare interested participants to work within the community to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices.

STILL INTERESTED?

The Green Spring VCE Master Gardener Volunteer training is held each fall beginning in September and ending in late November. The training generally requires two three-hour classes per week and one Saturday lab.

We interview all applicants and select approximately 30 trainees by the end of July. Selection criteria include the ability to commit to the training schedule with no more than three absences and adequate time and commitment to follow through on VCE approved Master Gardener volunteer projects.

If you are interested in becoming a Green Spring Master Gardener, please add your name to our waitlist. You will be contacted with more information.

>> Waitlist Sign Up

The Virginia Native Plant Society suggests replacing English Ivy (Hedera helix) with non-invasive alternatives. Move your mouse over the ivy to see recommendations.

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
Creeping phloxCreeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) mats together to make a spectacular display of blue/violet in early spring and stays low and green throughout the rest of the year.
Virginia gingerVirginia ginger (Hexastylis virginica) is a beautiful evergreen ground-hugger.
foam flowerFoamflower (Tiarella codifolia) has frothy little spikes of white flowers in May and the foliage lasts all year long.
Mouse-eared coreopsisMouse-eared coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata) with yellow blooms attracts many butterflies and bees.
VioletsViolets (Viola Canadensis) disappear in winter, but they provide nectar in early spring and are hosts to several butterfly larvae. Ants will spread the seed around.
Virginia creeperVirginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is taller and less dense than English ivy, but looks beautiful under trees. It will grow up trees without harming them because it is deciduous. Bird love the berries. It is aggressive, so be sure to put it in a place that you don't mind it spreading.
Virginia knotweedVirginia knotweed (Tovara virginiaa/Persicaria virginiaa) will completely fill a large space in a couple of years and looks very nice in a "shaggy, woody way." In addition to the straight peices there is a colorful cultivar with variegate leaves, tiny red flowers and seedheads, called "Painter's Palette." Cardinals and other birds love the seed or knotweed.
Heart-leafed asterHeart-leafed aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium formerly Aster cordifolius) is similar to white wood aster, but with pale blue flowers.
Zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) is very attractive to pollinators in fall.

VCE

The Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program is a national program of trained volunteer educators. Virginia Master Gardeners work within their local communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management education and training. As an educational outreach component of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), the Master Gardener program brings the resources of Virginia's land-grant universities – Virginia Tech and Virginia State University – to the people of the Commonwealth. The Green Spring Master Gardener Program (GSMG) is one of two MG units located in Fairfax County. It is supported by Fairfax County Park Authority and its offices are located at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria.


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