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March, 2017 


  • Sunday, March 19th, 4 pm, Shenandoah County Government Office Building.  Guest speaker Alison Sloop is a Conservation Specialist with the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District, working with agricultural and urban landowners to increase soil health and water quality throughout Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the City of Winchester.  Before working with the district, Alison spent three and a half years as a Biologist with the National Park Service, on Fire Island National Seashore and Manassas National Battlefield Park.  Her work with the park service was diverse, ranging from grassland bird surveys to stream bank stabilization to tick surveys.  She is a novice birder and enjoys wildlife photography and hiking with her husband and two pups.  One of her favorite plants is a mint variety from her grandmother and she makes a delicious tea with it in the summer.  You can check out the Lord Fairfax Soil & Water Conservation District Website,  Shenandoah County Master Gardeners will be hosting this meeting and we will have a potluck after the meeting, so bring something good to share!  

Directions:  From points north:  Take I-81 South towards Roanoke.  Get off at the VA 651 exit, EXIT 291 heading towards Tom’s Brook.  Turn Left onto VA 651/Mount Olive Rd.  Then turn Right onto Old Valley Pike/US Route 11 South.  The Shenandoah County Government Office Building will be located on the left at 600 N. Main St., Woodstock, VA.

From points south:  Take I-81 North towards Mt. Jackson.  Get off at the VA 42 exit, EXIT 283 heading towards Woodstock.  Turn Right onto W. Reservoir Rd/VA 42.  Turn Left onto S. Main St/US-11 South.  The Shenandoah County Government Office Building will be located on the right at 600 N. Main St., Woodstock, VA.

  • Sunday, April 23, 4pm, Corhaven Graveyard Sarah Kohrs, Corhaven Graveyard Project
  • Sunday, May 21, 4pm, Belle Grove Plantation, Myron Kremer, Stone Mason, Hardscaping
  • Sunday, June 11,  4pm, TBA
  • Sunday, July 16, 4pm, Blandy Library, Paula Brownlee, Fall/Winter plantings
  • Sunday, August 20, 4pm, Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, French Price, Shenandoah Valley Farm to Table, Buy Fresh, Buy Local
  • Sunday, September 17, 4pm, Shenandoah University Cool Spring Campus, Gene Lewis, Going native process & research at Cool Spring Campus
  • Sunday, October 15, 4pm, TBA
  • Sunday, November 2pm, 11/19, Warren County Govt Center, President/Volunteer Coordinator, Election/Business Meeting


  • Monday, March 6, 7–8 pm, Fort Valley Series—Plants for Problem Areas, Fort Valley Nursery, 1175 Hisey Ave Woodstock VA
  • Saturday, April 1, Gardening in the Valley Symposium 2017,  Lord Fairfax Community College (see article below)
  • Tues & Thurs, April 11 & 13, 9am-2pm, How to Use the Flora of Virginia.  Blandy Experimental Farm. 2 day class to learn how to use the Flora of Virginia to identify wildflowers withMarion Lobstein and Sally Anderson. Information:
  • Sat. & Sun., May 6 & 7, Wildflower Weekend at Shenandoah National Park.  Appreciate the diversity of wildflowers growing in the Blue Ridge.  More than 1,300 species of plants thrive in Shenandoah National Park, a haven for native woodland wildflowers.  Choose from among many activities at the Park website, 

MG TRAINEE CLASS OF 2017 by Sharon Bradshaw

With a full class of 16 students, we’ve been most impressed with the background skills each brings to the group.  Their questions to the presenters are thoughtful and on target.  We are looking forward to getting started on the class project of mapping the New Market Rain Garden, with an introductory presentation in class and a follow up visit for hands-on work.  The county break-out for the Trainees is Frederick five, Page three, Shenandoah seven, and Warren one.  Many of you met several Trainees at the February monthly meeting.  Thanks to all the MGs who came to our first class meeting on Valentine’s Day to welcome them to our Master Gardener family.


Shenandoah County, VCE Classroom

Mar 2: Plant ID: Randy Fogle // Rain Garden Project: Elena Lycas

Mar 7: Animal Damage Control: Fred Frenzel // VMS: NSVMGA Volunteer Coordinator and Time Keeper, Bob Carlton and Ann Levi

Mar 9: Lawns: Dr. Mike Goatley

Mar 14: Soils, Nutrient Management: Bobby Clark   

Mar 16: Composting: Michael Neese // Public Speaking: Anne Dewey Balzhimer

Mar 21: Annuals & Houseplants: Chris Schmidt

Mar 23: Perennials: Chris Schmidt

Mar 28: Berries: Lee Draper // Fruit Trees: Ed Clark

Mar 30:  Water Quality: Francis Reilly

April 4:  Pruning: Lynne Phillips

April 6: Trees:  Bart McDowell

April 11: Vegetables: Dr. Allen Straw

April 13: Propagation: Seeds: Lynn Hoffman // Division: Stacey Smith

April 15: Propagation and Pruning Workshop, TBA

April 18: Landscaping: Dr. Robert McDuffie

April 20: Green Help Line Demo and Green Help Line Practicum

April 25: PMG: Mark Sutphin

April 27: Plant –Insect ID Apps; Internet research: Stacey Smith // Physical Tools for Plant-Insect ID: Sharon Bradshaw // Green Help Line Practicum

May 2: Pesticide Safety: Mark Sutphin // Green Help Line Practicum

May 4: Habitat Gardening for Wildlife, Carol Heiser webinar // Pollinator Habitat Gardening: Marie Marajov

May 9: Volunteerism: NSVMGA Committee leads and Unit project leads // Youth in Horticulture, Carol Nansel, Helen Lake and Lynn Hoffman – Junior MGs

May 11: Green Help Line Practicum

May 16: Green Help Line Practicum // Distribute Exams

May 18: Grade Exam: Management Team

June 3: Garden Fest and Graduation 


Come learn from your fellow MGs.  Entrance is free to all.  For more information, contact  You get MG education hours for attending any talks.  or see (for the Handley series) or (Shenandoah County series).

  • Frederick County/Handley Regional Libraries
  •  Secrets of the Garden Handley Library, 100 W Piccadilly St., Winchester
    Saturday, March 11 @ 2 pm: Spuds (A Potato Story), by Pat Casey
    Saturday, April 8 @ 2 pm: Successfully Growing Vegetables and Herbs in Containers, by Paula Brownlee
    Saturday, May 20 @ 2 pm: From Monticello to Your Backyard: Growing Your Own Historic Garden, by Sari Carp
    • Success in the Garden Bowman Library, 871 Tasker Rd., Stephens City
      • Saturday, June 10 @ 2 pm: I Love My New Home, But Where are the Flowers?, by Anne Dewey-Balzhiser
      • Saturday, July 8 @ 2 pm: Water Wise Gardening, by Carolyn Wilson
      • Saturday, August 12 @ 2 pm: Save Seeds, Save Money, and (Maybe) Save the Planet, by Elaine Specht
      • Saturday, September 9 @ 2 pm: How Not to See Your Neighbors: Successful Tree Screens, by Sari Carp
  • Clarke County/Handley Regional Library System   
    • Sustainability in the Garden Barns of Rose Hill (sponsored by the library), 95 Chalmers Court, Berryville
      • Saturday, April 15 @ 2 pm: Natives in the Garden: Identifying, Planting and Encouraging Native Trees and Shrubs, by Sari Carp
      • Saturday, July 15 @ 2 pm: Swat, Spray, Squash – or Smile? How I Learned to Love (Some) Garden Bugs, by Pat Casey
      • Saturday, October 21 @ 2 pm: Happy Soil, Happy Plants, by Elaine Specht
  • Shenandoah County Library System
    • Adventures in Gardening  This series will alternate monthly between the main county library in Edinburg (514 Stoney Creek Blvd.) and the branch library in New Market (160 E Lee St.). Fort Valley Nursery has kindly agreed to donate topic- or season-appropriate plants to be raffled off as door prizes each month, and there will be monthly seed and seedling giveaways as well!
      • Saturday, April 1 @ 10:30 am (Edinburg):  Plants are Cliquish Too:  Fun with Companion Planting, by Sari Carp
      • Saturday, May 6 @ 3 pm (New Market):  Swat, Spray, Squash – or Smile?  How I Learned to Love (Some) Garden Bugs, by Pat Casey
      • Tuesday, June 6 @ 6:30 pm (Edinburg):  Water Wisdom in the Garden – A How-to Guide for Saving Time, Money and H2O, by Sarah Pak
      • Saturday, July 1 @ 3 pm (New Market):  Corhaven Graveyard: Using Plants as Tribute in an Historic Burial Ground for Enslaved African Americans, by Sarah Kohrs
      • Saturday, August 5 @ 10:30 am (Edinburg):  Enjoying the Harvest: Choosing and Growing the Right Produce to Preserve, by Stacey Morgan Smith
      • Saturday, September 2 @ 3 pm (New Market):  From Monticello to Your Backyard; Growing Your Own Historic Garden, by Sari Carp
      • Saturday, October 7 @ 10:30 am (Edinburg):  Bring Your Containers Indoors! Grow Fresh Herbs, Greens and More for the Winter, by Paula Brownlee
      • Saturday, November 4 @ 3 pm (New Market):  Happy Soil, Happy Plants, by Elaine Specht
      • Saturday, December 2 @ 10:30 am (Edinburg): Joy to Your Houseplants: Tips for the Holidays and Beyond, by Carolyn Wilson
  • Page County/Massanutten Regional Library System — Page County Library, 100 Zerkel St., Luray
    • Wednesday, April 19 @ 12:30 pm (Brown Bag Lunch): Natives in the Garden: Identifying, Planting and Encouraging Native Trees and Shrubs


March 7 Introduction // Propagation with Lynn Hoffmann
March 14 Water with Tricia Boyd
March 21 Botany // Student Talks with Rodney Dowty,  Helen Lake
March 28 Soil // Student Talks with Angie Hutchinson,  Helen Lake
April 4 Planning Your Vegetable Garden with Theresa Krause
April 11 Pollinators and Insects // Student Talks with Russ Watkins, Helen Lake
April 18 Trees  The Forest Floor with Tammy Epperson,  Larry Haun
April 25 Alternative Gardening with Shan Kilby
May 2 No Class — Apple Blossom week
May 16 Herbs // Student Talks with Ginny Smith,  Helen Lake
Week of May 22 plan on planting at the C-CAP garden.  Date depends on the weather.
May 23 Native Plants with Frank Baxter // Nature Walk at Westminster Canterbury
May 30 Submission and Review of Science Journals and Garden Talks with Lynn Hoffmann, Ginny Smith
June 3    Gardenfest — Jr. MG Display table Journals and Garden Talk Displays


How about this weather?  Great, isn’t it?  But don’t let Mother Nature fool you, it’s not spring yet. No one seems to be able to predict the long-term weather this year, so no telling if we’ll get March in like a lion and out like a lamb.

If you’re getting an itchy finger to start growing something you can begin now by starting seeds.  Whether inside or a protected area outside, now is a good time to start seeds.  If you attended the Seed Exchange then you probably have some great seeds just waiting to germinate.  I’ve set up my unheated greenhouse with flats for starting squash, peppers, and cucumbers.  I’ll also start some pollinator loving flowers for GardenFest.  It has already been so hot this year that I’ve had to prop open the greenhouse doors during the day.

Don’t let the nice weather fool you into doing too much too soon though and be sure you stretch those muscles first before beginning any gardening tasks.

This issue of our newsletter has something new. It’s a “Did you know” article that we hope to feature each month with information for Association members.  If there is a guideline or bylaw you think needs further explanation or would be a good reminder for the members, please let Susan Garret know and we’ll try to work it in.

If you haven’t signed up for the Symposium, be sure to do so soon.  You can either sign up on line through PayPal or print out the form and mail it in with your check.

Stay happy and enjoy the sunshine!

DID YOU KNOW?  By Susan Garrett

what it means to be an “Adjunct Member” of the NSVMGA? 

  1. Adjunct Status is granted upon petition to, and approval by, a majority vote of the Board.
  2. It is available to those who have been certified by VCE as Master Gardeners.
  3. It is for those members who have pressing circumstances such as conditions of employment, health, family situation, etc., which makes them unable to meet all requirements for recertification (20 project hours and 8 education hours).
  4. It is for those who wish to continue Master Gardener activities.
  5. Adjunct members must pay annual Association dues.
  6. Adjunct status is available for a maximum of three (3) consecutive years.
  7. Adjunct status is meant to be a temporary status. After the three years in Adjunct Status, the member must meet all requirements for active MG status or be removed from the Association rosters. That is, in the third year of Adjunct Status, the member must earn 20 project hours and 8 education hours, so that in the fourth year they will be in active status once more.
  8. In the NSVMGA Membership list on the “Members Only” section of the website, the status of Adjunct Members will be listed as D1, D2, or D3, depending on the year of their Adjunct Status


Our ongoing projects, such as Green Help Line, are continuing and seasonal projects are being reviewed by visits to the particular sites and evaluation of needs.  Woodstock Community Garden, our newest undertaking, has gone through intensive planning.  The goal is to provide information and hands on experience in planting vegetables in containers and raised beds for county residents who are not familiar with our Zone 6 conditions.  Speakers and topics have been identified and dates and classroom site are set.  We’re looking forward to the first workshop.

Project applications are in and in the process of approval.  We’ll clarify discussion points and recruit new project participants at our Shenandoah County Planning Meeting on Monday, March 20, in the VCE Classroom at 6:00 PM.


It’s almost here—NSVMGA Symposium 2017 at Lord Fairfax Community College!

Spring is here and so is Norther Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association’s Gardening in the Valley 2017.  

We are using a great new location—Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown.  

And we have a new format, so we can bring in six speakers instead of just four:

  • Alex Hessler, Director, Dining Services Farm, Virginia Tech:  Organic Soils and Enriching the Garden
  • Jim Douglas, former extension agent in three states:  Organic Gardening:  an interactive presentation
  • John Eckman, Executive Director, Friends of the North Fork:  Green Infrastructure for Water Quality
  • Julie Borneman, owner of Watermark Woods nursery:  native plants for a native garden
  • Chris Schmidt, Arboretum Specialist, Blandy Experimental Farm:  new invasive pests to watch for
  • Nicole Hamilton, Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist:  the magic of monarch butterflies

And then there are door prizes—including a beehive (bees not included).  For bookworms, we’ll have a used book sale.

Time is running out to register:  please sign up by March 17.  

You can register on-line at our website  Registering on-line gives you the opportunity to pay electronically by using PayPal, or you can mail your check ($55 for NSVMGA members) to Bob Gail.  If you register on-line you can select your preferred break-out session.  

If you have any questions or need help registering, please contact Bob Gail (

Come celebrate spring with us!  April 1, 8 AM to 4:00 PM!

PUBLICITY by Lynn Hoffman

The publicity committee will be attempting to keep up with pictures from our MG events.  If you have pictures of events from the past and can identify the people in the pictures please email them to me.  If there are children in the pictures, the parents have had to give permission.  Permission could be via 4-H, the school, or a parent.  We don’t keep the permission in writing, but a verbal OK is what we have been going with.  Email them to

GRASSY THUGS–Jocelyn Sladen

[Jocelyn Sladen has served on many national and regional boards, including Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Plant Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Virginia Native Plant Society]

As if our natural habitats were not enough under siege from Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), here comes Wavyleaf Basketgrass (Oplismenus undulatifolius).  We need a broad-based effort to detect occurrences and, to the extent possible, check the spread of this highly aggressive and shade-tolerant grass from Southeast Asia.  While we’re at it, we should touch upon the Japanese Stiltgrass invasion again and Joint-head Grass (Arthraxon hispidus), a  third invasive grass from southeast Asia that invades low disturbed habitats across the state and is especially common in the Piedmont.  

Wavyleaf Basketgrass is a perennial, native to warmer regions of Southeast Asia and Africa.  It was detected for the first time near a central Maryland landfill in 1996.  In 2005, an 80-acre infestation was discovered in Shenandoah National Park.  By 2009, it had become a rampant forest weed covering 200 acres.  It has since been discovered at multiple sites in the northern Blue Ridge and northern Piedmont.  In the past few years volunteers have been removing stands from Ovoka Farm in northern Fauquier County.  

The Digital Atlas of Virginia Flora lists it in 12 counties, including Warren and Fauquier, but notes that “populations are being detected with increasing frequency”.   

Wavyleaf Basketgrass has a branching, trailing habit, rooting at nodes along creeping stems but can grow up to 3 feet tall.  Leaf blades are flat about one-half to an inch wide and up to 4 inches long, deep green with distinctive rippling waves across the blades.  Leaf sheaths and stems have short hairs.  When it blooms (mid-August into November) a sticky substance appears on the pointed awns (extended pointed tips of the flower bracts) that adheres to whatever brushes against them.  The perennial growth habit and efficient seed dispersal system make it a serious threat to our natural landscape.  Look for it especially in low, wooded areas, especially those that have been disturbed.  It has been found among stands of Japanese Stiltgrass, as they thrive in similar habitats.   

Japanese Stiltgrass, another import from Asia, has become all too familiar in our region. It is prolific throughout the region, its sprawling mats of delicate, pale green grass growing thickly along roadsides and trails or in ditches or making stealth attacks on our gardens, but most aggres-sively invading vegetation

in woodland areas.  Highly shade tolerant, its dense infestations are associated with disturbed areas, with moist soils preferred.  It can completely displace other vegetation, forming dense carpets.  Like Wavyleaf Basketgrass, it is a sprawling plant but  can grow over three feet tall.  Its pale green, alternate, lance-shaped leaves have a silvery line down the center.  

Joint-head Grass (Arthraxon hispidus), a third Eurasian invasive grass, has been quietly making itself at home across our region for a somewhat longer time.  

Less aggressive so far, it is nonetheless a troublesome weed of low, moist areas and is easily confused with the other two.  They sometimes grow together. Note the clasping leaf base and conspicuous hairs along its leaf margins.  

It can be confused, with native Deer-tongue Grass (Dichanthelium clandestinum).  Deer-tongue has a panicled seed head, lacking in Arthraxon.  Arthraxon has stems that root at the nodes.

Controls–A small occurrence of any of these invasive monsters can be removed by hand.  All three are shallow-rooted, although Wavyleaf Basketgrass has a survival advantage because it is a perennial.  In hand removal, some care is important.  Seeds can stick to you to be carried elsewhere.  Disturbing soil by pulling rooted plants can create a fresh seed bed for new infestations.  As for chemical control, do plenty of homework in advance, and observe the known cautions.

1 thought on “Newsletter”

  1. Glad to see the seed exchange was so well attended after so much hard work put into making it a grand event. Great articles on Ilex, too. Love the pictures.

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