Newsletter

NORTHERN SHENANDOAH VALLEY MASTER GARDENER ASSOCIATION NEWS

March, 2015

UPCOMING MEETINGS All meetings will be the third Sunday of the month, and we will meet at 4pm.  All will be pot luck.  Each county coordinator will be responsible for providing the eating utensils, plates, coffee/drinks. (Check with hosts of private homes if you have any questions.)

  • Sunday, March 15, 4pm – The State Arboretum at Blandy.  The Gardens of Blandy presented by Steve Carroll, Director of Public Programs. Directions:  The State Arboretum is located on U.S. 50 one mile east of U.S. 340.

OTHER EVENTS

  • Sunday, March 22, 2 pm — Virginia Native Plant Society Winter Speaker Series at Tri-County Feeds in Marshall.  Marion Lobstein, Professor Emeritus of Biology at Northern Virginia CC will talk about our spring wildflowers and their western U.S. relatives.  For more information contact piedmontvnps@gmail.com.
  • Sunday, March 29, 10am-noon – Thompson Wildlife Management Garlic Mustard Pull, Participants are asked to come for any time period they have available to help eradicate Garlic Mustard on the Marjorie Arundel Trillium Trail at the G.R. Thompson WMA.  Meet at the Trillium Trail Parking Lot on VA 638 north of Linden.  For more details, please contact piedmontvnps@gmail.com.
  • Sunday, March 29 – The Ecological Regions and Natural Communities of Virginia.  A special program by Gary Fleming, Vegetation Ecologist VA Natural Heritage Program.  At The Barn, Fauquier Campus of Lord Fairfax Community College.  For more details, contact piedmontvnps@gmail.com.
  • Sunday, April 12, 1pm – Calmes Neck Walk.  Kristin Zimet will lead a walk at this VNPS registry site in Clarke County along the Shenandoah River.  Rich mesic forest and ravines promise a spectacular show of Bluebells, Twinleaf, Blue Cohosh, Columbines, ferns and many other plants.  The walk is moderate but expect to climb over downed trees.  To register and request more information, email piedmontvnps@gmail.com.  Limit 20 people.
  • Tuesday, April 28, 12:30-4pm – Trillium Field Trip.  Professor of Biology Emeritus Marion Lobstein will lead a trip to Thompson Wildlife Management Area to explore spectacular wildflower displays featuring a sea of trilliums, sponsored by the Foundation of the State Arboretum.  Meet at Blandy library to carpool.  FOSA members $10, nonmembers $12.  Registration required.  Call 540-837-1758 Ext. 224 or visit http://blandy.virginia.edu/our-foundation/online_payments to register.
  • Saturday & Sunday, May 9 & 10 9am-4:30pm – State Arboretum Garden Fair.  Perennials, small trees and fine items for garden and home for sale; children’s activities, gardening information, food and more.  Information at http://blandy.virginia.edu/our-foundation/2014-garden-fair.
  • Saturday & Sunday, May 9 & 10 – 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, http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/index.htm.
  • Saturday, June 6 – Garden Fest, Belle Grove Plantation.  Set up will be on Friday, June 5th.  We have leaders signed up for the many areas to be covered before, during, and after the event so everyone will have lots of opportunities to gain project hours. Garden Fest is set up on VMS and you can get signed up to volunteer now.
  • Sunday, June 14, 1pm – Massanutten Flower Walk.  Join us on west side of Fort Valley as we seek Tassel Rue (Trautvetteria caroliniensis), Skullcaps (Scutellaria), orchids, and other plants at the bottom of the east side of Green Mountain.  For more information, email piedmontvnps@gmail.com.

2015 MG CLASS Schedule by Cy Haley

3/3    Tues — Indoor Plants/Annuals — Carolyn Wilson

3/5    Thurs — Weed Control — Angie Hutchinson

3/10    Tues — Vegetables — Paula Brownlee

3/12    Thurs — Lawns/Turf — Dr. Mike Goatley

3/17    Tues — Trees & Shrubs — Carrie Whitacre

3/19    Thurs — Water Quality — Charlie Newton

3/24    Tues — Fruits & Berries — Bill Mackintosh

3/26    Thurs — Perennials — Mary Stickley?Godinez

3/28    Sat — Pruning — Frank Baxter

3/31    Tues — Native Plants & Invasives — Richard Stromberg

4/2    Thurs — Plant Path/Diagnostic key — Debbie Dillion

4/7    Tues — Entomology — Dr. T’ai Roulston

4/9    Thurs — Animal Control/Fire Wise — Fred Frenzel/Mary Craig

4/11    Sat 10?12 — 1/2 class divide plants — Carolyn Wilson’s house

4/14    Tues — PMG VCE — Mark Sutphin

4/16    Thurs — Landscape Design — Mary Stickley?Godinez

4/18    Sat 10 to 12 — 1/2 class divide plants — Carolyn Wilson’s house

4/21    Tues — Website, VMS — Mark Sutphin, Donna Funk Smith

4/23    Thurs — Hort Therapy, Pub. Speaking — Helen Lake, Anne Dewey Balzhiser

4/28    Tues — Volunteering/Class Presentations — VCE Mark Sutphin, VC, CCs

JUNIOR MASTER GARDENER SCHEDULE 2015 by Lynn Hoffman Anyone interested in helping on any of the dates contact Lynn Hoffman and the instructors.  Anyone knowing of students interested in the program should contact Tammy Epperson at 540-665-5699.

Date Topic Teachers
3/10 Introduction for Parents and children Our goals, Garden Skills, Garden Journal Lynn Hoffmann, Helen Lake
3/17 Plant Propagation Tricia Boyd, Rodney Dowty
3/24 Soils and worms Angie Hutchinson, Ginny Smith
3/31 Botany Rodney Dowty
4/7 Planning Your Vegetable Garden Theresa Krause
4/14 Water Cycles Lynn Hoffmann, Angie Hutchinson
4/21 Herbs Ginny Smith
4/28 NO CLASS Apple Blossom week
5/5 Insects and Diseases Deborah Byrd, Lynn Hoffmann
5/12 Trees, class will be at Belle Grove Larry Haun
5/19 Fairy Gardens Angie Hutchinson
6/2 Pollinators class will be at Belle Grove ½ hour Work session in the Teaching Garden Helen Lake, Deborah Byrd
6/6 Belle Grove Plantation Gardenfest Jr. MG Display table Saturday 9-11am
6/9 Composting and make a compost box Lynn Hoffmann, Rodney Dowty, Deborah Byrd
6/16 C-CAP Garden Project / Fairy Garden construction & Garden Bed Angie, Hutchinson, Lynn Hoffmann & all MG instructors and helpers

VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR’S REPORT by Mary Flagg

A VMS Overview- Part 1 of 3

As spring starts to creep up, time management becomes essential.  All of a sudden, your calendar is full and your own garden becomes a priority on top of all those projects you want to volunteer for.  Here is a brief overview of the Virginia Master Gardener Volunteer Management System (VMS) to help you.  VMS is the statewide program that VCE Master Gardeners can use to track their volunteer hours.  VMS is at https://virginia.volunteersystem.org/UniversalLogin.cfm. VMS has a lot of flexibility, and also offers calendar functions, customizable home pages, emailing to all members (by project or interest), and the ability to generate reports.  In the next three months, I will review VMS and the various tools available in the upcoming newsletters.  All this information is posted on VMS to review at your convenience.  At the touch of a button, VMS is a great tool, if used properly, to help keep you organized

The first time you access VMS, click on “New User?”   A screen will appear for you to enter your email address and then click on “Receive e-mail to access portal”.  You will receive a VMS system-generated email with a one-time link giving you entry into VMS.  By clicking the link, it will take you into the VMS system.  Once you access the system, click “Edit your profile” on the left column.  Enter and save your password.  When you are ready to access again, enter your email address and password.  Click “login” and you are ready to go.VMS logon

In VMS, the home page has a three column format.  The left column contains links that you will use frequently to update your contact information, add hours and view current calendar events and projects.  The right column contains a summary of your hours, miles, and links to state and other pertinent websites.  The middle column contains local news and information. VMS home page Choose “Edit Your Profile” from the left column to edit your member profile.  Complete as much information as possible in this section.  Be sure to click the “Save Information” button at the bottom of the “Edit Member Information” page.  Your personal information will not be visible to anyone other than local Master Gardeners and state personnel.  If you would prefer that your information not be visible to others, click on the PRIVATE box.  The interests section of the member information is very important since emails will be generated by others from your interests.  For example, if I am looking for pruning volunteers and you have checked pruning as one of your interests, when I send an email to all pruning volunteers, you will get the email requesting volunteers.  Please check as many interests that apply so that you can get emails regarding your interests. Choose “Add New Hours” from the left column to enter your volunteer hours.  Add your new hours as you complete them.  Hours are automatically calculated for all administrators to view.  Recognition is based strictly on the hours you enter. Another great tool on VMS is the Event Calendar also accessed from the left column.  County calendar pages within the event calendar are new this year.  Events can be viewed monthly as you can move to the month you want to see.  Click on the event you are interested in to open the events page with further details about the event.VMS calendar

If an event is one you can volunteer for, a “Volunteer for Event” section will appear on the screen to allow you to sign up for the event.  If space is available for this event, the Volunteer line reads “You are not signed up for this event.”  Click on the Volunteer for Event and the line will say “You are currently signed up for this event!”  If you would like an email reminder for the event, go to the “Event Reminder” section, select from the drop down choices following the “Remind Me” button.  You can select a reminder between 1 and 7 days.  You can un-volunteer for an event by going back into the events calendar.  Click on the event and scroll down to Volunteer for this event and click Unvolunteer for this event.  It automatically takes you off the project. VMS event

PRESIDENT’S REPORT by Susan Garrett

Continuing our series on the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association Leaders, this month we will meet the Volunteer Coordinator and the various County Coordinators.

VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR Mary Flagg Mary Flagghas been a MG since 2005 and has lived in VA since 1997.  She lives in Millwood, on Daybreak Farm, raising Angus beef cattle with her husband and two college age children.  Mary works part-time for Mattel Toys servicing accounts and spends her summers with the T.A.P.S. organization mentoring grieving military families who have tragically lost a loved one.  She loves to scrapbook, cook and garden with her family and friends.  Before moving to Virginia from Connecticut, she worked as a Macy’s executive, opening stores in Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and New York City.  She was born and raised in Chicago and now considers Virginia her home.

CLARKE COUNTY COORDINATOR Ginny Smith was a member of the Class of 2013 which took place at Blandy.  She was Vice President for the year 2014 and will be Clarke County Coordinator for 2015.  Ginny has been project leader for the children’s programs at Bowman Library, worked with the Junior Master Gardener program at Greenwood Mill Elementary and the home school group with the 4H.  She is co-project leader for the Xeriscape Garden in Berryville.  She also volunteers for the Frederick County Greenline.  Ginny participates in Belle Grove Christmas decorating, Berryville Farm Market, Gardenfair and Arborfest at Blandy and our own NSVMGA Gardenfest. This year she assisted with the class of 2015 by scheduling volunteers for help with refreshment set up.  Ginny is married with a daughter and two grandchildren, who live in Richmond.  She is also an active member of the Herb Society of America.

FREDERICK COUNTY COORDINATOR Emily Wickham only recently moved to Virginia.   She grew up in Montana.  After studying history at the University of Notre Dame, Emily served in the US Army and then become a military spouse.  As a result, she has lived in eight States in the US and two in Germany.  So she has started many a garden but not EmilyWickham photoseen one mature!  She and her husband, Tracy, have raised three children, all now in their 20s. Emily earned a Masters Degree (education) while living in Kansas.  Through the years she held various jobs in the education field but has primarily been a volunteer in different capacities.  She has been throwing pottery seriously for about 5 years, which is currently her main occupation.  Three years ago Emily moved to Winchester with her husband who works for the US Army Corps of Engineers.

TomGardeningPAGE COUNTY COORDINATORS Tom and Lesley Mack married in 1973. They have worked for the state of Pennsylvania, as farmers, janitors, and school bus drivers in Hawaii.  Tom was in the Army for eight years whence they LesliewithCrowwere able to travel in Europe.  They recently retired after teaching 22 years:  Tom fourth grade, Lesley third.  They have been Master Gardeners since 1996.  They own and maintain a three acre garden/arboretum.  Now they are Dance Master and Mistress for Shenandoah Valley Civil War Era Dancers.  Come dance with them or visit their gardens! Sharon Bradshawcropped

SHENANDOAH COUNTY COORDINATOR Sharon Bradshaw says that if she had all the plants she left in the various yards where she has lived, there would be more than enough for the new one in Mount Jackson.  She wanted to become a Master Gardener when the program was first introduced in Virginia over 20 years ago, but realized there was no place in her schedule at that time to incorporate the class and its requirements.  She was a school librarian for many years and then transitioned into instructional technology, teaching teachers methods to incorporate computer programs into classroom instruction.  At the same time, she was also very involved in the Virginia vineyard and winery industry.  She is probably one of very few librarians who were also private certified pesticide applicators.  She retired in 2000 and she and her life partner traveled extensively to market their specialty gourmet food line.  They sold that business in 2011, and when the 2012 Master Gardener class in Shenandoah County was announced, she knew the time was right.  Along with gardening, Sharon enjoys reading, cooking and entertaining.

WARREN COUNTY COORDINATOR Katherine (2)Katherine Rindt lives in southern Warren County and has been in the Master Gardener program since she retired in 2003.  Because she lives on a hill with lots of woods, red clay, deer and other wildlife, her primary interests are native plants, herbs, and container gardening.  She has held the positions of Secretary and Vice President and has been the Warren County Volunteer Coordinator since 2014.  She is a regular volunteer at the Belle Boyd Gardens at the Warren Heritage Society, the Butterfly Garden at the Happy Creek Arboretum, and the Warren County Help Line.  She was a coordinator for the 2006 Master Gardener Class, taught classes at the 4-H Education Center summer camps, and has made presentations to Garden Clubs on pruning and water quality. She is also active in the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, and along with her husband maintains and builds hiking trails in the area.

RON GUSS by Lesley Mack

Sadness has struck with the passing of Ron Guss, a NSVMGA member.  Ron and Johan Guss were excellent MGs, starting way back in 1993.  Several years ago, they sold their Shenandoah Valley home and moved near Charlottesville to be close to family.  They made a super MG team, and so much of the NSVMGA was built on their shoulders.

CLARKE COUNTY REPORT by Ginny Smith

A meeting of Clarke MGs will be held March 18th at 7pm at the home of Ginny Smith.  Projects for 2015 will be reviewed as well as any new ideas that might be discussed. We look forward to having Ann Levi (class of 2015) as a new member. We will host the March NSVMGA monthly meeting and participate in the Mother’s Day Garden Faire at Blandy in May.

PAGE COUNTY REPORT by Lesley Mack

Tom and Lesley Mack attended the 2015 Winter Vegetable School hosted by the VCE.  The topics and speakers were well chosen.  We should be able to talk about these topics half as well as these wonderful speakers:

  • Using Row Covers by Dr. Ramon Arancibia
  • Vegetable Disease Updates by Dr. Steven Rideout
  • IPM for Insect Pests by Dr. Thomas Kuhar
  • Pollinators and Neonicotinoids by Dr. Doug Pfeiffer
  • Food Safety by Amber Vallotton
  • Soil Health by Chris Lawrence

There is no way to explain or even give you a “taste” of the great topics, statistics, photos, videos, hands-on samples, or great information that was shared.  It would be wonderful if these “schools” were taped so that folks could watch them later. One interesting website you might like to explore is http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/vagrown/, The Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services.  Great site for finding Farmers’ Markets, Marketing Services, Specialty Foods, Organic Farms, Trade Events, Aquaculture, Livestock, and more, all over the state of Virginia.

Congrats to Cy and the crew for the new MG training classes.  What a fine tuned organized leader and crew, list of speakers, and new recruits!  Keep reading your MG books and enjoy those classes Cooper, Sari, and Susan.  You will be fine representatives from Page County.

SHENANDOAH COUNTY REPORT by Sharon Bradshaw

Our most important event in March is the rescheduled county planning meeting on Monday, March 2.  The time and place remain the same:  VCE classroom at 600 North Main Street at 7:00pm.  It is listed in VMS as a Shenandoah County Event.

We decided to change the date after several MGs were concerned that the original date created a conflict with a local gardening seminar.  A notice went out to in-county members a few weeks ago.  All NSVMGA members are invited, but the focus will be on Shenandoah County.

We continue to monitor the Green Help Line, with very little action this time of year.  This down time gives us all the opportunity to hone our mental gardening skills to be ready for the questions that will surely be facing us in a few weeks. I enjoyed Emily’s remarks in February’s newsletter on the golden ratio.  This is an alternate name for the phenomenon I learned as Fibonacci numbers and it is mentioned in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.  If you haven’t read the book, click the first link; if you have, pass go and move on to the second link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Da_Vinci_Code  http://news.sciencemag.org/math/2013/06/scienceshot-sunflowers-do-math

The relationship between gardening and popular fiction combined with thoughts of the February meeting’s pruning presentation we missed reminded me of a pruning practice we generally ignore as Master Gardeners–pollarding.  This ancient practice began as a survival technique and has evolved into something entirely different.  Depending on who performed the pruning and your point of view, it can be part of a beautiful formal garden design or a disaster.

Check out an on-line article that references works by Van Gogh, J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien, http://jlshernandez.hubpages.com/hub/pollarding-trees. Ignore all the ads.

WARREN COUNTY REPORT by Katherine Rindt

The Warren County Master Gardeners met February 24 to discuss our projects for 2015.  The meeting was held in the Warren County Community Center prior to the 2015 Master Gardener Class, and many students were in attendance.

Master Gardeners will begin manning the Help Line in The Extension Office in the Warren County Government Center in April from 9 until noon starting in April.  Katherine Rindt will send out the schedule for the first half of the growing season in March.  Students/interns are welcome to work with a Master Gardener.  A sign-up sheet will be available at a class in the future.

The Calvary Memorial Garden is on the Garden Club of Virginia Historic Garden Week tour on April 25.  Frank Baxter will be recruiting Master Gardeners and students to help in the various garden rooms.  There will be training in advance for those who want to help.

Work will begin at the Warren Heritage Society Belle Boyd Gardens in April if the weather cooperates.  More Master Gardeners are needed to help the members of the general public learn about proper planting and maintenance of perennials, herbs, and shrubs.  The regular workday this year will be Tuesday mornings from 9 to noon, or earlier if it’s a hot day.  What is a hot day?

Southern States in Front Royal has invited the Master Gardeners to have an information table there on a regular basis.  Jamie Martin, our inside resource, will come up with a schedule for the best Saturdays to set up, and then he will send out the request for volunteers.  We hope to have enough people available to have the table twice a month.

The Samuels Public Library will be a very active project this year.  Frank Baxter hopes the installation of the new children’s garden will be completed this summer.

Matt Windt will be coordinating the Samuels Library Master Gardener Lecture Series this year.  Be on the lookout for some exciting programs and activities at the library.

FREDERICK COUNTY REPORT by Emily Teawick

Frederick County continues to prepare for growing season projects.  The Lowes Help desk (Enid McConnell, leader), VA Avenue School Garden (Pat Burlsem, leader), and Timbrook Garden (Sandra Himelright, leader) are now starting up, along with the Greenline.

We congratulate Deborah Byrd on achieving you Master Gardener Status.

Despite the current frigid weather, spring will come!  So as we dream of spending time outdoors we need to remember that our indoor plants need to be acclimatized before they grace our patios and porches.  With this in mind I found a great VCE article that explains acclimatization:  Indoor Plant Care http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-100/426-100.html#L2.

Research conducted in Florida in the late 1970s revealed an interesting phenomenon. Tropical plants grown in full sun have leaves (so-called sun leaves) that are structurally different from the leaves of plants grown in shade (shade leaves).  Sun leaves have fewer chloroplasts, and thus less chlorophyll.  Their chloroplasts are located deep inside the leaves, and the leaves are thick, small, and large in number.  Shade leaves have greater numbers of chloroplasts and thus more chlorophyll, and are thin, large, and few in number.

When plants are grown in strong light, they develop sun leaves that are photosynthetically inefficient.  If these same plants are placed in low light, they must either change existing sun leaves into shade leaves or drop their sun leaves and grow a new set of shade leaves which are photosynthetically more efficient.

To reduce the shock that occurs when a plant with sun leaves is placed in shade, gradually reduce the light levels it is exposed to. This process is called acclimatization. The gardener should acclimatize plants when placing them outdoors in summer by gradually increasing light intensities, and reverse the process again before plants are brought indoors in the fall.  For newly purchased plants grown in high-light conditions, acclimatize them by initially locating them in a high-light (southern exposure) area of your home and gradually moving them to their permanent, darker location over a period of 4 to 8 weeks.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE by Lynn Hoffman

The Education Committee has been established.  We are waiting for the High School Scholarship and the College Memorial Scholarship applications to be submitted.  Information about the scholarship process has been posted on the web site.  If anyone knows a student that would be eligible, please let the committee know.

PUBLICITY AND COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE by Stacey Smith

Planning.  The Publicity and Communications Committee held its first meeting of 2015 on February 28th.  We worked on a plan for the committee (based on the guidelines and bylaws) centering around fostering communication to the public, the Association, and other Master Gardener groups.  In March you should see our name more often, both online and in print. Before the growing season, we need your help to ensure our communities know when MGs are out working at gardens, info booths, or other venues.  How do you find out about the events in your area? Please let us know about community bulletin boards, newsletters, or Facebook pages so we can keep your community informed.

Press.  We wrapped up press work for the new class in late January.  The media push directly helped to bring in some of the great trainees we have in the class of 2016!  Now we move to spreading the word about both the high school scholarships and the Jr MG for homeschoolers program.

Reminders.  The committee is available to support any project or offering through free press releases. Send the information you want to get out to NSVMGApublicity@gmail.com or email Stacey through VMS.  If you see our press in any outlet, please save it or send a copy, if you can, to the same email address (even if it’s just a pic taken with a cell phone and emailed). If you have contacts to pass on or if you can make a connection between committee members and other MG groups or the media, that will also help with our publicity efforts.

Projects.  Finally, we want to share a few or our NSVMGA events.  Each month we’ll include some projects to help spread awareness of the many different ways we contribute our time.  Contact leaders with questions or check VMS for additional and most-up-to-date information.

  • Master Gardener Class, Tue & Thu 6-9pm, Feb-May 12, 538 Villa Av. Front Royal. Education hours for presentation and project hours for helping with food/ setup/cleanup, Contact Ginny Smith: va_dare@msn.com
  • GardenFest, 6/6, 336 Belle Grove Rd, Middletown, VA. Project hours for a variety of jobs, from creating displays and potting/maintaining plants to helping with signage, setup, and children’s events. Check with individual leaders. Contact Cy Haley: cyhaley@comcast.net
  • Board Meeting, 3/10, 726 East Queen Street Strasburg, VA. Project hours for attending. Contact Karen Brill: keb_brill@yahoo.com
  • Monthly Meeting, 3rd Sundays. 1 education hour for presentation & 1 project hour for meeting.(2 project hours for trainees.)Contact Karen Brill:keb_brill@yahoo.com
  • Luray Middle School Garden, 14 Luray Avenue, Luray, VA. Project hours for preparing, designing, and budgeting while working with garden club children. Contact Lesley Mack: lesleypmack@gmail.com
  • Preservation and Education of Historic Chinquapin Oak. Project hours for removing invasive weeds, educating the public, and working on pocket garden. Contact Lesley Mack: lesleypmack@gmail.com
  • Rain Garden Demo Garden, 140 East Lee Street, New Market, VA. Project hours for planting, weeding, and dividing plants (for GardenFest) while educating the public. Contact Carolyn Wilson: cmwilson22842@gmail.com
  • GardenFair at Blandy, 400 Blandy Farm Ln, Boyce, VA. Project hours for answering questions, passing out flyers for GardenFest, and recruiting for 2016. Contact Ginny Smith: va_dare@msn.com
  • Junior Master Gardener Course with Homeschoolers. Project hours for presenting and helping with classes. Contact Lynn Hoffman: gwendydog@gmail.com
  • Belle Boyd Cottage Gardens, Tue 9am–12noon, Apr–Oct, 101 Chester Street, Front Royal, VA. Project hours for leading the public in weekly work sessions while teaching gardening best practices. Contact Katherine Rindt: jkrindt@comcast.net
  • Samuels Public Library, 330 E Criser Rd, Front Royal, VA. Project hours for implementing a professional landscape design and educating the public. Contact Frank Baxter: skyland@centurylink.net
  • Blandy Community Garden Teaching Garden, 400 Blandy Farm Ln, Boyce, VA. Project hours for teaching of various groups while designing, planning, and installing garden bed. Contact Mary Craig: mcorneliac@centurylink.net

THE MYSTERIOUS BITING BUG by Susan Garrett

I became interested this story when I wasCarols bites browsing Facebook and saw a post from my sister Carol, who lives in Connecticut.  She posted the picture on the left and captioned it as follows:  “My reaction to “stink bug” is gross. But it shows they are not harmless.”

She said her neck had become red, swollen, and itchy immediately after the encounter. I, of course, Master Gardener and big sister that I am, immediately wrote back that Stink Bugs don’t bite, and asked for further information on the bug.

I sent her several Extension articles that said the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was harmless.  All said something like, “The brown marmorated stink bug does not have the physical capacity to sting or bite. Their only means of defense is their characteristic ‘stink’”. And I asked for further information.

Meanwhile, I was researching stinkbug look-alikes, and worrying that she had been bitten by the Triatomine bug that causes Chagas disease (except they don’t seem to be in Connecticut in the winter) or another predator bug with a serious bite. But then she sent me the picture Stink Bug (6)of the bug that had attacked her in her sleep.  Carol said that it had felt like a needle, and she had immediately woken up.

She had captured it, and then taken a picture.  It was pretty obvious that it was indeed a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, or BMSB, as the researchers seem to affectionately call it.  (Entomologists in both Connecticut and Virginia later positively identified it as the BMSB.)

I began to do further research, this time with the query “do stink bugs bite?” I found that the Internet was (so to speak) crawling with people who said they had been injured by stink bugs. And then I began to find a few researched articles which mentioned that when the BMSB’s protective stink was triggered it could, in sensitive people, act like an acid and produce a contact dermatitis wherever it touched.  Kind of like a burn, which is what Carol said her neck looked like as the injury healed.

With more digging, I found a couple of Extension articles that spoke of the fact that when stink bugs were crushed they could create dermatitis at the point of contact.  One from Penn State Extension spoke of the dangers to agricultural workers in areas where the BMSB has become a major pest of agriculture (http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/brown-marmorated-stink-bug#.VOPvajMMwQ8.mailto). The answer to a query to the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech was, “…some people have sensitive skin and get a reaction to the “stink” fluid they [the BMSB] release.”

My sister had written to the University of Connecticut Extension and received the following information, “Your stink bug is indeed the brown marmorated stink bug.  Since this insect is so new to Connecticut and the United States, it is not as well-known as some other pests.  Stink bugs do not bite; however, some people are sensitive to chemicals they emit and that could explain your skin dermatitis.

I am conferring with the CT Agricultural Experiment Station and others about skin reactions in humans.  I will keep you posted on what I learn.” So just a thought: never dismiss anyone who says that a BMSB has “bitten” them, because although it may not be a bite, if the person is sensitive to it, the contact dermatitis due to the “stink fluid” can hurt, and the skin reaction can last a long time.

TRAVEL TIP by Sharon Bradshaw

Making regular overnight trips has become a way of life for us, at least for a few months.  I want to share a practice we began a several years ago when we traveled on a large scale basis for our business.  All those amenities on the vanity counters in the motel rooms are included in our bills even though they are not itemized.

Having been brought up in a very thrifty household, I am not willing to leave behind something we’ve paid for, nor do we wish to use those little samples; we travel with our own preferred products, purchased in a more efficient size.  I collect the samples (if we stay multiple nights, they are replaced daily) and tuck them into my luggage.  At home, these samples are stashed in a basket.

Before the basket overflows, everything is transferred to a bag and taken to the local shelter for homeless/abuse victims. Please consider adopting this practice when you travel.  If you are not familiar with the location of a similar shelter in your county, I will be happy to bring a collection container to meetings for anyone who wishes to donate toward this effort.

EDITORS CORNER by Richard Stromberg

The state Division of Natural Heritage of the Department of Conservation and Recreation has revised its list of “Virginia Invasive Plant Species” (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/invsppdflist.shtml).  The list has three invasiveness ranks that reflect the level of threat to forests and other natural communities and native species:  High, Medium, and Low.

They have added a new category, Early Detection Species, which are not yet widely established in Virginia but are known to be invasive in habitats similar to those found here.

Not much has changed in the High Invasive Rank:   European Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) has been added; Tyrol (aka Short-fringed) Knapweed (Centaurea nigrescens) and Standishes Honeysuckle (Lonicera standishii) have been deleted; Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera mackii) and Yellow Flag (Iris pseudocorus) have been moved up from Medium; Cogon Grass (Imperata cylindrical) and Beach Vitex (Vitex rotundifolia) have been moved to the Early Detection Species.

Some of your favorite enemies remain in the High Invasive Rank:  Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Autumn Olive (Eleagnus umbellata), Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium vinineum), Mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliatum), Kudzu (Pueria montana), Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), and Johnson Grass (Sorghum halapense).

We have looked favorably on some High Invasive Rank species in the past because of ornamental features or fruit, and even for planting in gardens or landscapes:  Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), Winged Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), Chines Privet (Ligustrum sinense), Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), and Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius).

The 111 species from the old list has dropped to 82 (with an additional eight added in the Early Detection group).  Species have been deleted from the list because they have not been found to be as prevalent as was thought when the first list was issued over 10 years ago or, while widespread, have not dominated areas and excluded other species.Mile-a-minuteOrientalBittersweetfruitJapanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonicaGarlicMustard

NSVMGA Newsletter: March 2015