downloadable January 2017 NSVMGA Newsletter


January, 2017

  • Sunday, January 15, pm Fort Valley Nursery, 1175 Hisey Ave, Woodstock.  Terry Fogle, part owner of FVN will be our speaker.   Please bring a potluck dish or finger foods to share. Directions: From I-81, take exit #283 Woodstock. Go west on Rt. 42 and take left on Hisey Ave. (just past Tractor Supply Company). Fort Valley Nursery will be located on your left 1/4 mile.
  • Monday, January 9, 7–8pm, Fort Valley Series—For the Love of Gardening, Fort Valley Nursery, 1175 Hisey Ave Woodstock VA
  • Monday, January 23, 7–8pm, Fort Valley Series—Gardening with Gourmet, Fort Valley Nursery, 1175 Hisey Ave Woodstock VA
  • Saturday, January 28, 10am–2pm, Seed Exchange at Blandy (see details below)
  • Monday, February 6, 7–8pm, Fort Valley Series—Virginia’s Wild Bees, Fort Valley Nursery, 1175 Hisey Ave Woodstock VA
  • Sunday, February 12, 1-3pm, Notes from Nature—Plants of Virginia Workshop, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Front Royal.  George Mason professor of botany Andrea Weeks will train people how to enter label data for the herbaria images that have been digitized.  This is part of community outreach for National Science Foundation-funded research. The goals of the workshop include an introduction the rationale for digitization of natural history specimens and the goals of herbarium digitization in the southeastern US, which is the focus of the NSF-funded research.   Before the program Kyle Richards and Erika Gonzales will lead a walk to the demonstration gardens on Racetrack Hill, starting time and location TBA.  Limit 24 participants.  Register with Catherine Mayes,
  • Monday, February 20, 7–8pm, Fort Valley Series—Enhancing Yards for Birds, Fort Valley Nursery, 1175 Hisey Ave Woodstock VA
  • Monday, March 6, 7–8pm, 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


Happy New Year Master Gardeners!  I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday and an opportunity to spend time with family and friends.

This is the time of year when some make resolutions and try to keep them throughout the year.  If you are in this group I hope you keep Master Gardeners and NSVMGA on your list of resolutions.  I thought I’d share a couple of mine with you.  I resolve to

  • get Richard my articles for the newsletter prior to the deadline (already broke this one as it’s the 2nd of January and I just remembered that I need to get him an article for the January newsletter).
  • have everything ready for Garden Fest by the 1st of May.  I’ve already made several things for the sales table so I think I have a good change of keeping this one.
  • make as many events as I can work into my schedule.  I already have several on the calendar and have put in for time off at work for them.
  • help the members make their hours required and enjoy the time doing so.
  • keep up to date on my hours instead of waiting until the last minute to enter my time in VMS.
  • have as much fun as possible with fellow MGs.  This one is going to be easy as you all are a fun bunch to work with.
  • try something new as a NSVMGA volunteer whether it is a new event or a new learning experience.

Well, there are a few of mine.  I hope you enjoy the New Year and are excited about what we can accomplish as MGs. The public is waiting for us so, once again, Happy New Year!


We got together in December to have fellowship, a cookie exchange, and make a table centerpiece for the holidays.  It was great to have guests from other counties attend, a time to unwind before we start another year of projects.clarke2 clarke1 clarke3

Also we attended the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond for their light show—quite a display especially the conservatory with the tree and plants.  Thanks to Laurie Cocina for the photos.  We will be having a meeting in March to review 2017 projects.

clarke5 clarke4 clarke6 clarke7


Our county meeting in December was the highlight of the month.  20 members enjoyed pot luck refreshments and socializing prior to an in-county project review. The various project leads gave updates and answered questions from members.  All Unit project leads in the county were also included in the presentations.

A couple of points were clarified during the discussion.  One question referenced the individual learning that is incidental to research in answering a Green Help Line question. Carolyn Wilson answered that, as established several years ago, education hours are recognized only when information is presented by an instructor in a classroom setting and the class has prior education credit approval.

The next issue concerned community garden talks.  Bob Carlton clarified the question by explaining that each person who represents NSVMGA when giving a presentation must have a project application on file for that year in order to be covered by liability insurance and to count the presentation as project hours. Each different presentation by the same member does not need a separate application, but that member must have an updated application on file each year.  As county coordinator, I file one ‘Community Garden Talk’ application at the beginning of the year and list all the names of those who have submitted such a request.  If, during the year, additional members submit an application, I forward that on to be approved individually.

MG TRAINEE CLASS OF 2017 by Sharon Bradshaw

The Management Team took a short break in meetings the last part of December and will begin anew the first week of January to work out remaining details. The Pit Crew coordinators are ready to go to work and we’ll have a sign-up sheet for the January meeting. We want to invite members to visit with us to meet and greet during registration on the evening of January 17, beginning at 6:00pm, and again to welcome new trainees for the first meeting of the trainee class on February 14 at 6:00pm, both at the Shenandoah County Government Center – mark your calendars now.


smile-amazonThe Smile Amazon website is the same thing as Amazon and connects you to all those things you buy on the internet.  The nice thing is that Amazon has a system to give non-profits a percentage of a purchase price without any additional cost to the buyer.

NSMVGA is now set up on Smile Amazon as a non-profit to get money for NSMVGA when you purchase anything via Amazon.  

So please to go to Smile Amazon ( and sign up for the NSMVGA, and log on to Smile Amazon every time you buy something on Amazon so NSMVGA will get something from your purchase.


brents-and-beckys-bulbs1-copyPlease check out our web page and read about Brent’s and Becky’s Bulbs.  This is another opportunity to share part of a purchase with the NSVMGA.  

We already have $11 in our account for members who have bought bulbs or plants.  It’s easy to do and they have great plants.brents-and-beckys-bulbs2-copy

I want to buy some Shamrock bulbs.  St. Patrick ’s Day is coming and so is Spring, so check out their site and start thinking about spring planting!


From Ageratum to Zinnia, we have seeds for you at the Seed Exchange at Blandy:

When: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Blandy Experimental Farm/State Arboretum of Virginia, Library

seed-exchange-3Throughout the fall, your NSVMGA friends were busy gathering, cleaning, and packaging seeds for the exchange.  Seeds from more than 60 different types of plants are already represented by what we prepared, and that doesn’t count all that will come in on the day of the exchange.  If you haven’t yet attended an exchange, here is what you can expect.

  • Plant material: In addition to seeds, there will be bulbs and cuttings.  If you bring seeds to share, you are welcome to take as many seed packets as you’d like. Even if you don’t bring seeds, you’re welcome to take up to 5 packets
  • Garden Book and Magazine Exchange: The book exchange “rate” is on a one-for-one basis
  • Speaker: At 11 a.m., a member of the Virginia State Beekeepers Association will give a presentation about bees and plants good for these important pollinators
  • Garden-Themed Door Prizes: You must be present to win
  • Vendors: Herbs, teas, and lavender items will be featured by the vendors

LICHENS by Lesley Mack

Hope you are enjoying this new, cold part of the year… getting out to walk among the artictectural structures of the evergreens and trees.  I love the simple hues of grays, browns and greens.  I also love the mosses and lichens that seem to prosper at this time of year.lichen1

I recently learned that lichens are a ”complex life form”. They are actually a partnership of two separate organisms, a fungus and photosynthesizer, most often an alga.  The fungus is the dominate partner which gives the lichen its shapes and fruiting bodies.  The algae give lichen the green, blue-green, bronze colors.

Fungi are in their own kingdom.  They do not contain chlorophyll, so fungi rely on other organisms for nutrition.  Mostly, fungi are found decomposing other organic matter…or sometimes they go to parties dancing…trying to be a “fun guy”. Sorry, had to.

Lichens do not have any roots, stems or leaves, but the fungus absorbs water from the air and  nutrients from the substrate while the algae photosynthesizes and provide food for the fungus as it grows and spreads. This time of year is great for lichen and their growth cycle, with the cooler temperatures and moisture that does not evaporate in the day’s heat.

The pictured lichens are all commonly found in Virginia.  The pictures were taken in the Macks garden.  

lichen-3 lichen-2 lichen4

When wet, the algae in Common Greenshield and other chlorolichens “bloom”, which means it turns a deeper shade of green.  Lichens are not only beautiful and come in various shapes, sizes and colors, but they also provide a home for algae where it might not normally survive.  The fungus protects the algae in the dry, sunny climates as long as there are occasional rain showers.  Lichens live all over the world and the photosynthesis process converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.  

Some other points about Lichens:

  • Lichens absorb pollutants from the atmosphere, and provide information about those pollutants.
  • Lichens provide food and building materials for mammals, birds, and insects.
  • Lichens are used by humans for dyes, clothing, and decoration.
  • Collecting lichens on National Forest Lands is requires a permit
  • Certain types of lichen can be eaten
  • is a lichens glossary
  • The American Bryological and Lichenological Society (ABLS) was founded in 1898 (  (Bryology is the study of mosses and liverworts.)

So, next time you are asked, “Why did the fungus and alga get married?”, you can say because they had a lichen for each other…ha.

EDITORS CORNER—RED OAKS by Richard Stromberg

Red Oak leaves have pointed lobes with a bristle tip.

Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra—red) is common and widespread in the uplands of our area.  It is distinguished by the shallow acorn cup that has tight scales.  The acorns are about one inch long.  Bark on mature trunks has long, smooth ridges and shallow fissures.  Leaves have 3-5 pairs of lobes.  They are smooth underneath except often having small tufts of branching hairs in vein axils.redoakflowersred-oak-leaves-and-acorns

Black Oak (Q. velutina) has dark grayish bark broken into irregular blocks.  It gets darker with age, hence the name “black”.  An orange fuzz on the underside of the leaf yields the species name velutina, which means velvety.  The fuzz also appears on the midrib on the top of the leaf.  The ¾-inch acorns have shaggy-fringed caps which cover more than half of the nut.  Oak leaves at the bottom of a tree are often different than the “sun-leaves” at the top of a tree, particularly Black Oak.  The sun-leaves are usually smaller and more deeply lobed.

Shumard Oak (Q. shumardii—named after nineteenth century geologist B. F. Shumard) tends to grow in damp areas.  The leaves tend to have more lobes and bristles than other species.  They are smooth underneath except for conspicuous tufts of branching hairs in vein axils.  The one-inch acorns have shallow caps.    

Scarlet Oak (Q. coccinea—scarlet) is called scarlet because its fall color can be brighter red than most oaks.  It tolerates poor, dry soil.  The ¾-inch acorns have turban-shaped caps with tight scales.  The cap covers more than half of the nut.  The apex of the acorn often has one to three concentric rings.  Deeply lobed, six inch leaves have tufts of hair along the mid-vein on the underside.  

We are at the northern limits of the Southern Red Oak (Q. falcata).  It is distinguished by the shape of the leaf base, called “U-shaped”, “bell-shaped”, or “sickle-shaped”.  Falcata means “sickle-shaped”.  The underside of the leaf is densely hairy.  It has small (? inch) acorns with tightly-scaled caps covering ? to ½ of the nut.

blackjack-oak-quercus-marilandicaBlackjack Oak (Q. marilandica) is included in this group even though it often does not show bristles on the lobe tips.  The leathery leaf is triangular with the broad end at the apex, though the apex may have shallow lobes.  Often a leaf is shaped like a hammer, sometimes with small lobes on the hammer shaft.   The ¾ inch acorns are ½ to ¾ covered by a goblet-shaped cap.  On mature trees the bark is dark, in squarish blocks with deep fissures.  It grows in poor, dry soil, so I see it mostly on low-elevation, rocky ridges.  It can grow to 50 foot, but on the ridges it is usually a short shrub so the leaves are at eye level.  When I see a hammer-shaped leaf, I know what it is.

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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