APRIL, 2015



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, April 19, 4pm, Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit Building.  Ben Rose, the Owner/Operator of Four Winds Tree Experts Inc., will present “Proper Pruning Practices”.  Ben has a B.S. in Horticulture from VPI & SU.  He has been in the tree care industry for 15 years.  Ben will discuss all aspects of pruning, including proper techniques, appropriate equipment and tools, and the time to prune select trees, shrubs, fruit trees, and other plants.  The business meeting and potluck meal will follow.  We have several important business items to discuss, including  the member survey, the strategic plan, and the association’s community garden at Blandy

Directions:  Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit Building on 125 Prosperity Drive on Route 11, south of Kernstown and across from the Miller Honda automobile business.  There is a huge decorated apple from a previous Apple Blossom Festival near the side of the building.  We will meet in the conference room in the center section (the stucco section) of the building complex.


  • 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  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 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
  • 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,
  • 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

2015 MG CLASS by Cy Haley

The class is going strong, and trainees are still enthusiastic! We had some snow days so we had to reschedule a few things.  The remaining classes:

4/02/2015 Thurs Plant Path/Diagnostic key Debbie Dillion
4/07/2015 Tues Entomology Dr. T’ai Roulston
4/09/2015 Thurs Animal Control/Fire Wise Fred Frenzel / Mary Craig
4/11/2015 Sat 10-12 1/2 class divide plants/House Plants Carolyn Wilson’s house
4/14/2015 Tues PMG VCE Mark Sutphin
4/16/2015 Thurs Landscape Design Mary Stickley-Godinez
4/18/2015 Sat 10-12 1/2 class divide plants/House Plants Carolyn Wilson’s house
4/21/2015 Tues Website, VMS Mark Sutphin, Donna Funk-Smith
4/23/2015 Thurs Horticulture Therapy / Public Speaking Helen Lake / Anne Dewey-Balzhiser
4/28/2015 Tues Volunteering/Class Presentations VCE Mark Sutphin, VC, CCs
4/30/2015 Thurs Class Presentations / Home Composting Michael Neese
5/05/2015 Tues Class Presentations / Weeds Angie Hutchinson
5/07/2015 Thurs Class Presentations / Water Quality Cindy Frenzel
5/12/2015 Tues Greenline /Exam results Katherine Rindt


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
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 Gardenfest
Jr. MG Display table
 Belle Grove Plantation / 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


GardenFest is in full swing. We have leaders for all 23 areas of the event from plants to critters.  The leaders for each area are listed below.  Please sign up to work an area 1) on VMS under Projects or 2) email the area leader or 3) email me at or 4) on the GardenFest sign-up sheet at the April Association Meeting.  If you have any questions please contact the area leader or me. Two Potting Parties are scheduled with more expected soon.

  1. Set up & Take Down: Cy Haley / James Jones
  2. Tables & Tents: Mary Flagg
  3. Port?A?Potties/Wash Stations: Barb Hallar
  4. Entrance Table: Belinda Palmer
  5. Parking & Plant Pick Up: Glenn Martin / John Kummer
  6. Internal Signs: Trish Boyd
  7. Plant Sales: Carolyn Wilson/Stacey Smith
  8. Wagon Wrangler: Kris Behrends
  9. Second Hand Rose: Angie Hutchinson / Laurie Cocina
  10. Speakers: Helen Lake
  11. Work Shops: Mary Craig
  12. Education Displays: Ginny Smith
  13. MG Info Booth: Bob Carlton / Susan Garrett
  14. Raffles: Barb Hallar / Sandy Ward
  15. Cashier: Lee Demko
  16. Kid’s Event: Cyndi Walsh
  17. Music: Larry Haun
  18. Vendors: Suzanne Boag
  19. Publicity & Banners: Sharon Bradshaw
  20. Photographers: Denise Howe
  21. Class Graduation: Claire DeMasi
  22. Tool Sharpening: Rich Howell / Glenn Martin
  23. Petting Farm: Siobhan O’Brien


A VMS Overview- Part 2 of 3

VMS 2VMS is the statewide program that Master Gardeners can use to track their volunteer hours.  VMS is at  In the middle column of the home screen page, the Master Gardener news is listed.

Be sure to watch the center of the screen for updates and information.

The NSVMGA member roster is at the bottom of the left column, under the General Information heading.  When you click on the Member Roster, it brings up the roster in the center, and it opens two additional choices, View Member Interests and Email Members.

If you click on View Members Interests, the interests of each member will be displayed.  This is useful when you are working on projects and need to find interested volunteers.  You can use your browser’s find function to find the people that have listed your topic.

If you click on Email Members, a screen will pop up that will enable you to email members by interest group and/or project and/or group.  You can select all the members that fit the criteria you selected or just some members.

Back on the General Information section, Projects is listed below member roster.  All NSVMGA projects are on the Projects page.  Click on any project to see details about it.

Newsletters/Documents is listed below Projects.  Eventually you will be able to read the current newsletter.  Other documents are already available on this page.

The last item in the General Information section is Photo Albums.  There are already over 250 pictures there.

You can get back to the Home page by clicking on Home at the top of any page.  As you can see, the program is easy to use and has a lot of benefits.  Please review and continue to log onto VMS!


I’m concluding my series on the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association elected and appointed positions with some of the key leaders who chair Committees or who otherwise have leadership positions and whom MG’s might need to know.

COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLICITY CHAIR Stacey Smith has been a Master Gardener since 2014.  She is a lifelong Virginia resident and now lives with her husband and pets on an overgrown, former pick-your-own flower farm in Mount Jackson.  Stacey has spent her career in editing and Internet marketing and teleworks these days from home managing the accounting for a Northern VirStacey Weeding New Marketginia finance company.  She loves to can, which she occasionally blogs about when she’s not writing about gardening.  She has grown veggies since childhood and moved to raised beds over 10 years ago, learning to interplant with herbs and annual flowers.  Since becoming an MG, her interest in perennials has grown, and she is working on improving the floral views around her farm.  She enjoys researching problems and helping the public while working Greenlines and info booths, and is busy growing plants for GardenFest.

EDUCATION CO-CHAIR Sandy Ward lives near Woodstock with her two cats, Bianco and Pumpkin.  She is originally from a small farming community in upstate New York very similar to Shenandoah County.  She purchased her home in Woodstock in the late winter of 2003, and quite to her surprise after the snow melted, discovered established flower gardens next to her house.  She expanded on gardening by installing a vegetable garden, and became a Sandy WardMaster Gardener in 2014.  Before retiring in 2013, Sandy worked for a government contractor in editing, writing, documentation management, and project management.  She holds a Masters Degree and further advanced study in Education from the State University of New York at Albany.  Her first career was teaching, and she believes strongly in lifelong learning.  Sandy is dedicated to helping learn more about the complex body of knowledge involved in gardening.

EDUCATION CO-CHAIR Karen Brill is also the NSVMGA Vice President, and her bio was printed in the February Newsletter.KarenBrillpicture (1)

As Historian Mary keeps an archive of articles and announcements that have been in the newspapers over the years.  She also keeps records of majorMary Craig picture events within the group and keeps copies of the newsletters, dating back to 2002.  She also keeps photographs of major events, like GardenFest and the Blandy events.  If anyone needs pictures for articles or displays, feel free to ask her.  She has posted albums on VMS and wants to add more, with the latest events.

As Membership Chair Mary keeps the list of NSVMGA members up to date. She has records going back to the beginning of the NSVMGA in 2002, the names of students in each class, where the classes where held and the times.  She tracks when members leave the Association, and adds the new students to the list each year.  And most importantly, she attempts to meet as many of her fellow MGs as she can, to put faces with names and welcome them to the group.

NEWSLETTER EDITOR Richard Stromberg retired in 1997 after many years in information systems and moved to Front Royal to be near the hikes he and his wife, Sybille, do twice a week.  Richard head onlyHe also exercises regularly at Fitness Evolution to keep in shape for the hiking and to fight off old age.  He became a Master Gardener in 1999 and has served as NSVMGA vice president for two years and as president for two years.  He has edited the NSVMGA newsletter for ten years.  He joined the Virginia Native Plant Society in 1998 and is a board member of the Piedmont Chapter, and he edits the Chapter newsletter.  He helped plan the start-up of the Shenandoah Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists and took the first chapter training course as well as teaching the botany class.  He has been active in native plant and invasive alien plant removal activities, including giving presentations to various organizations.  He surveys/monitors plant populations for Virginia Working Landscapes, Shenandoah National Park, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  He and his wife maintain trails and lead hikes for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, and he writes articles about plants for their monthly newsletter.

SCHOLARSHIP CHAIR Lynn Hoffmann has been in the MG program since 2001. She has held the position of Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association Vice LynnHoffmannJPGPresident, Education Program Coordinator, Frederick County Coordinator, and MG Class Intern Coordinator for two sessions.  She was also a member of the State MG College Coordinating Committee.  Lynn has coordinated the Jr. MG program/C-CAP garden in Frederick County for the past 6 years, teaching home school students in the programs.  She led the MG’s volunteers at Belle Grove Plantation and worked with Colonial era and heritage plants for Belle Grove’s historical teaching garden.  Lynn has taught classes and workshops at Belle Grove Plantation, The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, and area schools, as well as classes for local county recreation departments and Garden Clubs. She has logged over 3,500 hours of volunteer time for the Master Gardeners.

Sarah Kohrs pictureTIMEKEEPER Sarah Kohrs became an MG in 2012.  As the NSVMGA timekeeper, she is responsible for helping members log their hours.  Sarah is a homeschooling mother of three young sons (Joseph, 7; Ezra, 5; and Gratian, 1) and has her Virginia state teaching licensure endorsed in Latin and Visual Arts.  She is also a poet, potter, and photographer.

In addition to NSVMGA, Sarah volunteers as the managing editor for The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, a merit badge counselor for BSA, and in various other roles for local nonprofits.

WEBMASTER Donna Funk-Smith’s professional experience has included time spent with her own publications and marketing business, working in program and volunteer coordinator and marketing and public relations with local nonprofits,  as a public information specialist for local schools, a newspaper reporter and editor, a teacher at both the middle school and college level, and currently a reference assistant with the local library system. She has experience with both print and virtual media, photography, and website creation and management. Her volunteer experience with Master Gardeners has included a stint as Publicity Committee Chair, virtual Greenline volunteer, and now Webmaster. She was a member of the class of 2011. Her formal higher education background is in English and professional writing. She also has numerous hours of horticulture education in the old LFCC program (she used to take Cindy’s classes recreationally) and enough fine art credits for a minor. She loves ‘volunteer’ plants and wild places. Donna is a native Virginian and a Valley girl. She used to keep bees and hopes to again. Her idea of best practice pest control is some guinea fowl and a goat.


IT IS TIME TO ENTER FIRST QUARTER HOURS!  Take a moment to make sure the project and education hours you worked hard to earn for NSVMGA during January through March 2015 are entered on VMS (

Each active Master Gardener is responsible for submitting his or her own hours either by logging them in VMS or by sending a Time Summary to the Timekeeper.  You can find downloadable time sheets on VMS or on the NSVMGA website or by contacting the Timekeeper.  Remember that each active MG needs to earn 20 project hours and 8 education hours in 2015 to keep in good standing.  If you have any questions about entering hours, please do not hesitate to contact the current Timekeeper, Sarah Kohrs (, 540-477-3257, 1748 Cave Ridge Road Mt Jackson VA 22842). Sarah is happy to help!

VMS TIP:  Understanding travel time can be tricky.  It’s one of those options we have as Master Gardeners, but it isn’t always easy to know how to add travel time and which activities earn travel time.  Here is some help to make sure you are correctly logging travel time hours.

First, remember that Travel Time is not the same as Miles Driven. When in VMS, you can enter Miles Driven for the actual miles you drove to and from a project. This is useful if you itemize on your taxes; however, it is not necessary to log these for Hour recordingNSVMGA purposes. Miles Driven does not translate into hours that you worked on a project. You enter your Miles Driven with the project for which you worked.  So if you volunteer for Garden Fest, you would put the Miles Driven in at the same time you enter your Volunteer Hours.

Travel Time, on the other hand, includes the hours you spend driving to and from a project, such as Garden Fest or monthly meetings, and can count toward your overall NSVMGA hours earned.

This is useful if you are aiming for Milestone pins and for discounts on going to Master Gardener College in the summer. Travel Time does NOT count for your yearly project hour requirement as a Master Gardener.  So, your required 20 hours cannot include Travel Time hours.

How do you enter Travel Time hours?  One convenient way is to create a quarterly activity showing Travel Time. You can enter “Travel Time – ___ Quarter” in the Event Description Hour recording 2box; put the last day of eat quarter in the Event Date box; select “ADMIN – Travel Time”  for “Apply to Project” and enter the hours in the Volunteer Hours box.


Hour recording 3Every time you travel to and from for ANY project (whether it’s Garden Fest, a monthly meeting, or other volunteer hour earning event), you can add the number to the running total you have for the month.  If you want to know how many hours you have earned for the year, you will need to subtract the Travel Time hours from the total for the year. You can also enter Travel Time per month or yearly, that is your choice, as long as you do not count them in the required 20 volunteer hours for the year.

Hour recording 4

Two final important tips related to Travel Time: you cannot count Travel Time for education hours; and, don’t forget to hit the SAVE button when you enter any hours on VMS.

TAX TIP by Richard Stromberg, Tax Preparer, Liberty Tax Service Front Royal

If you itemize deductions, you can take 14 cents per mile for every mile you drive to and from Master Gardener activities as “Gifts to Charity” on line 16 of Schedule A.  As Sarah Kohrs explained above, you can enter miles driven when you enter your volunteer hours into VMS.  If you have entered the miles, VMS can tell you the total to use on your tax return.  Select Viewing Your Hours from the Your Information menu on your VMS home page and enter Start Date 01/01/year and Mileage1End Date 12/31/year.  Your total miles for the year will show up at the bottom of your list of activities.

The list is a perfect log should IRS ever challenge your data.  And you don’t have to keep a paper copy.  If MileageIRS ever asks for justification for the miles claimed, go to VMS, put in the dates for the year in question and print the web page.

By the way, if you drive for other charitable activites, keep a log like the one VMS provides.

RON GUSS by Lesley MackRon

Fran Gregory, Tom and Lesley Mac, Bob and Mary Carlton, and Ruth and AJ Garrettson attended Ron Guss’s lovely Memorial Celebration.  A number of folks got up and spoke about Ron and told some interesting and funny stories.

The pictures are of Johan and her family on the stairs and Johan with Ron’s younger brothers.  The picture of Ron is from several months ago.

Guss family         Johan and Rons brothers


earth day cartoon 1Happy spring, April Fools, and Happy Earth Day!

earth day cartoon 2

Our three student MGs, Susan, Sari, and Cooper are enjoying the 2015 class.  Cooper mentioned that he was going to give up on one of the fruit trees in his yard, but after hearing Bill Mackintosh speak about fruit trees, he is willing to keep trying.  Susan said she was inspired, and Sari said the class is a lot of fun.  They were excited about preparing something special for the potluck.

Sorry we will not be having the April MG meeting in Page County.  The February business meeting, that was canceled, will take the month of April.  Hopefully, we will be able to have the White House Farm tour in September.  Keep you posted.


We began and ended March with Shenandoah County Master Gardener meetings.
Our county planning meeting on March 2 was well attended.  A brief overview of county demographics brought into focus the numbers we see on our contact reports.  After some discussion, we decided to form a committee of members who are interested in pursuing ideas for meeting the needs of the underserved populations we recognized from the presentation.

April is the beginning of our Green Help Line office hours on the 1st and 3rd Friday mornings in the VCE Classroom and for our two farmers’ markets on the 2nd and 4th Saturday mornings:  Strasburg Farmers’ Market at Pot Town Organics and Woodstock Farmers’ Market at Fort Valley Nursery.  We will also have a promotion/publicity table at Natural Art Garden Center for Shenandoah County’s Artisan Trail.  This year’s theme is “Gardens, Galleries and Grapes”.

Our Green Help Line workshop on March 27 ended the month, with a presentation and discussion of computer search techniques, print resources on hand and use of the MG email account to deliver the researched information.  During the question and discussion process, the preliminary Green Help Line handbook expanded from seven to twelve pages.  Rich Howell has been working for some time to bring order to the computer information and email archives.  The handbook he has created will clarify and unify procedures and practices for the several Green Help Line project leaders.


Our county meeting was held March 18 to discuss upcoming projects.

Since we are hosting the informational booth at Blandy’s Mother’s Day Garden Fair in May, we will be offering sunflower seeds for children to plant in a pot to take home as well as handing out other plants. Some members of the class of 2015 will be participating.  If you are interested in helping, email or call Suzanne Boag  to check for times to volunteer.
Pam Hough is the project leader for the Berryville farmer’s market, which runs from May through October.  You can sign up to volunteer for this in the VMS system or contact Pam. The time is 9 to 12 on Saturday’s.

Mary Flagg is the project leader for the Millwood Community Garden located behind the post office in Millwood.  All aspects of gardening are taught here.  To volunteer contact Mary.

Suzanne Boag and Ginny Smith are project leaders for the Xeriscape Garden in the Chet Hobert Park in Berryville.  Volunteers are needed to clean up the garden several times a year.

Mary Craig is project leader for Clarke County Fair.  To volunteer  Monday  through Friday night see the calendar on VMS.

Green line project leaders are Susan Garrett, Cathy Dickey and Mary Flagg.

Rain barrel project leader is Suzanne Boag.

Community garden talks are open to all MG’s.  A project form needs to be submitted for this.


Frederick County is powering through the spring!  A dozen volunteers met at my home last month to talk projects.  Thanks to all who attended.  Our Greenline, led by Elizabeth Bevan, is starting to staff the VCE office this month.  Every Friday there will be two MG volunteers or interns present to take phone calls and walk-in question.  This year she is also changing this up by having email inquiries handled by MG volunteers at home.  This will allow some flexibility and ease the workload at the VCE office during the busy growing season.  Please support our Greenline/Helpdesk by volunteering.

Enid McConnell is also getting the Lowes Help Desk underway for the spring.  She will be looking for MG volunteers/interns/trainees to staff this table at the Winchester Lowes on select Saturday mornings.  This is a great activity and is well received and supported by the Lowes Nursery.  Angie Hutchinson is once again heading up the Frederick Douglas Rain Garden.  She will be working with the InterAct Club, a local high school group, to clean up the garden for the new year.

These projects are available on the VMS calendar to sign up or by calling the project leader.

This will be my last submission to our NSVMGA Newsletter.  My husband and I are moving to Portland Oregon.  I expect to be leaving in June. This move is occurring much quicker than we expected.  I want to take the opportunity to tell everyone thank you for welcoming me into the community.  I got tremendous help and friendship from many of you.  I want to especially thank Mark Sutphin, Susan Garrett, and Helen Lake for their support and help as I undertook Frederick County Coordinator.  I look forward to the move and being closer to my family but I greatly regret leaving the wonderful people in this corner of the world.


We wrapped up press work for both the high school scholarships and the Jr MG for homeschoolers program. We are now focusing on Belinda and Dianegetting each county’s Green Help Line/Help Desk and Info Table information out to the relavent newspapers and other media.  Please share any photos you have for us to include with articles. This picture is from the info table at the Shenandoah County Fair.

As the growing season heats up, please also let us know how you find out about the events in your area.  We are looking for more ways to let our communities know when MGs are out working in gardens, info booths, or other venues.  Let us know about community bulletin boards, newsletters, or Facebook pages so we can keep your community informed.  When we advertised for the 2015 class, we had unexpected reach online through Facebook.
Finally, we want to share a few of our NSVMGA projects.  We will list some each month 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 6pm – 9 pm, April – May 12, 538 Villa Avenue Front Royal; education hours for presentation and project hours for helping w/ food setup/cleanup.  Contact Ginny Smith:
  • Board Meeting, 4/15, 726 East Queen Street Strasburg; project hours for attending.  Contact Karen Brill:
  • Monthly Meeting, 4/19, 4pm, Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, 125 Prosperity Drive, Winchester; 1 education hour for presentation and 1 project hour for meeting (2 project hours for trainees).  Contact Karen Brill:
  • Green Help Lines & Help Desks, times, days, and locations vary by county; project hours for answering questions, making IDs, and solving problems for the public.  Contact your county coordinator or county’s project leader through VMS.  
  • Woodstock Farmers Market, 2nd & 4th Saturdays 9am-12pm, 1175 S Hisey Ave, Woodstock; project hours for answering questions, making IDs, and solving problems for the public.  Contact Sharon Bradshaw:
  • Berryville Farmers Market, Saturdays, May – Oct, Intersection Church & Crow Streets, Berryville; project hours for answering questions, making IDs, and solving problems for the public.  Contact Pam Hough:
  • Warren Heritage Society/Belle Boyd Garden, 101 Chester Street Front Royal; project hours for teaching the public about proper maintenance of perennials and shrubs.  Contact Katherine Rindt:
  • GardenFest, 6/6, 336 Belle Grove Rd, Middletown (6/5 setup); project hours for a variety of jobs, from creating displays to helping with signage, setup, and children’s events. Check with individual leaders.  Contact individual leaders or Cy Haley:
  • GardenFest Plant Sales, 6/6, (6/5 plant drop off); project hours for digging/babysitting plants, potting bulbs/roots or starting seeds, helping with pricing the day before, and assisting day of.  Contact Stacey Smith: or Carolyn Wilson


Spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), is a small frog 0.75-1.5 inches, that makes a great loud, distinctive high piping whistle, or like a chirp sound of a bird.  This single clear note is repeated at Peeperintervals of about one per second.  If you live near a wet breeding site, you will hear this great chorus, a sure sign of spring.

Globally, there are more than 5,200 species of frogs/toads; 27 species in Virginia; 11 in the Shenandoah Valley:  American Bullfrog, Green Frog, Picker-el Frog, Wood Frog, Gray Treefrog, Northern Cricket Frog, Spring Peeper, Upland Chorus Frog, American Toad, Fowler’s Toad, and Eastern Spadefoot.

Spring peepers have a dark ‘X’-shaped marked on their backs.  Males have now gathered at moist breeding sites and are calling to the females.  The female will deposit up to 1,000 eggs which metamorphose in about 90 days.  The eggs and tadpoles are eaten by fish, insects, turtles, snakes, bullfrogs, birds, and some mammals.  Luckily, not all of them are eaten.  You will hear their peeps again in the cool fall.

Gives another meaning to peeps around Easter.

EDITORS CORNER by Richard Stromberg

Despite the temperatures and snow flurries, the signs of spring hearten me.  In addition to the Spring Peepers pealing from the riverside at night, Double-crested Cormorants have arrived to sit on Sycamore branches hanging over the Shenandoah.  They accumulate until the trees start to leaf out and then fly on to the Thousand Islands and other points north.

Snowdrops reappearFlowering bulbs are progressing:  Snowdrops, Crocus, Daffodils.  Snowdrops showed up in early February.  Miraculously to me, after the piles of snow we shoveled onto them beside the driveway melted away, the Snowdrop flowers reappeared as though nothing had happened.

Tiny flowers are blooming in my so-called lawn:  white Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), purple Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and Purple Dead-nettle (L.purpureum), and blue Bird’s-eye Speedwell (Veronica persica).

My driveway is coveredRed Maple flowering with dropped Silver Maple flowers and the Red Maple down the hill glows red.  I like its red in the spring better than the red of autumn because of what it portends.

Maple flowers on driveway

April 2015 Newsletter