October, 2017


  • Sunday, October 15, 2pm, at  Weber’s Nursery and Garden Center, 1912 Martinsburg Pike Winchester, VA 22603, Weber’s Nursery owner, Peter Weber, will speak on the topic “Right tree, right place”.  Please remember to wear your nametag/badge, and bring finger foods to share for the potluck.  We will be setting up for our meeting in the shade greenhouse (back left-hand corner of the nursery adjacent to the larger tree section); please remember to bring a chair.  Weber’s will extend discounts to MGs attending the meeting:   25% off all plants and 10% off all hard goods.

Like  Weber’s Nursery & Garden Center on Face Book page to keep up with events and sales or check website

Directions from points south (35.7 miles from Woodstock, approx. 34 minutes travel time):

  1. Take I-81 North
  2. Take the US-11 exit, EXIT 317, toward VA-37/US-522 N/US-50 W/Winchester/Stephenson.
  3. Turn right onto Martinsburg Pike/US-11 N.
  4. Weber’s Nursery & Garden Center is on the right.
  • Sunday, November 2pm, 11/19, Warren County Govt Center, President/Volunteer Coordinator, Election/Business Meeting


  • Sunday, October 22, Belle Grove Barn Series:  Williamsburg Holiday Display ($30 per person — $25 for class; $5 for supplies) Williamsburg style swags and mantle decorations, a class filled with dried flowers and fruit and citrus.  Counts toward education hours.  Sign up at
  • Monday, October 23, 6–9pm, Seed Packaging Workshop, Specht Residence, Woodstock. Pizza will be provided.
  • Wednesday, October 18, 5-6pm, Library Series at Bowman Planning Meeting at the Bowman Library. If you are interested in teaching or assisting please come to the meeting.
  • Wednesday, November 1, 9am–Noon, Seed Packaging Workshop, Blandy Farm in the Dining Room.
  • Saturday, November 11, 9am–Noon, Seed Packaging Workshop, Specht Residence, Woodstock. Muffins and coffee will be provided.
  • Sunday, November 12, 2pm Everlasting Flowers Workshop, Belle Grove, Sally’s Room.  How to use everlasting flowers you can grow in your garden in holiday displays.  It will give you 2 education hours.  
  • Tuesday, November 28, Belle Grove decorating.  This year we will make hanging, moss covered globes that you can suspend from your ceiling, or mount and use like a topiary.  I hope that everyone will make two and leave one for Belle Grove as we prepare to decorate on November 28.  Please email  if you plan on attending so I can get enough material together.  Bring glue guns if you have them.  I am also looking for embroidery hoops that you would like to donate for the class.  


Autumn is finally here:  the temperatures are declining and the leaves starting to turn to gold, orange, and.  With the cooler weather the fall fun starts:  putting vegetable gardens to rest for the winter, dividing perennials, cutting back shrubs, in other words…work.

I spent this last weekend doing some major sorting of plants.  With the vegetable summer plants garden mostly cleaned up, I dug and divided a bunch of perennials that were in need of thinning and moved them to the fallow veggie area to let them overwinter. In the early spring I will dig them back up and pot them for GardenFest.  I started doing this a few years ago and found it to be easier on my poor back to prep the perennials in the fall for spring potting.  Before, I would leave everything to be done in April and it prevented me from seeing the flower gardens in their thinned out potential.  By moving plants in the fall I can get a better idea of how the annual gardens will look once spring comes and lets me have a better idea of what new plants I may want to order during the winter months when I pore over the gazillion plant catalogues I get.

This can be good and bad, depending on how you look at it.  For my husband it’s not so good,as I tend to order a lot of plants and the checking account takes a hit.  But for me it’s a win-win-win.  I can save my back some sore muscles in the spring, get a better idea of how (hopefully) the flower gardens will look with more space and a few new additions, and keep plants in my vegetable garden thereby not having to plant as much cover crop.

That’s another activity to take care of this fall–don’t leave your vegetable garden soil bare during the winter.  Keeping it covered is much better for the soil and all those wonderful microorganisms.  If you can, plant some cover crop such as purple clover or buckwheat.  I prefer buckwheat but toss in come clover.  It is turned under in the early spring which puts nutrients back into the soil.  If you don’t have a space that requires a cover crop just make sure you mulch over the barren dirt.  I actually do both, I throw a light mulch over the buckwheat just to keep moisture in the soil while it’s taking hold.  

Be careful and don’t overdo it.  You can over exert during the fall as easily as in the spring.  And remember, what you divide now will be easy to pot up for GardenFest.  If you have a lot of plants to pot up for GardenFest in the spring, ask Stacey Smith if you can schedule you a potting party.  I’m sure she’ll try her hardest to get one put together.


The definition of a “contact” is when a VCE-MG has a face-to-face, phone, personal mail, or email interaction with the public where there is an exchange of educational information.

The purpose of reporting contacts on VMS is to document the number of people, and the demographic make-up of each audience MG’s interact with.  The number of people MGs provide educational information to illustrates the impact of the Extension Master Gardener educational programs on the citizens of Virginia.  The demographic information shows that all EMG programs are presented fairly and equally to all of Virginia’s citizens.  The contacts are reported to both the State of Virginia and the United States Department of Agriculture to support the funding of Virginia Cooperative Extension by illustrating the impact of Virginia Cooperative Extension and its programs.

SHENANDOAH COUNTY REPORT by Sharon Bradshaw Rodriguez

The dead ash tree in our woods was removed this week, taking the team almost all day to get to it, take it down in stages, and remove it.  Darkness prevented exploring after they left, but the next day I measured the trunk–40 inches in diameter.  Losing it was a shame, but at the same time, the empty space in our small forest of hardwoods and invasive ground cover is a welcome area. I can already envision a path with hostas and other shade plants for next spring and summer.

Ongoing projects like the Strasburg Farmers’ Market and Green Help Line office hours are winding down this month, while others are gearing up.  Several members are continuing to share gardening presentations to various groups throughout the county.  We are partnering with a preschool in Fort Valley to offer half-hour gardening presentations once a month through the fall and winter.  The New Market Rain Garden is looking good going into the cooler weather and Corhaven Graveyard’s Monarch Waystation garden is thriving.  This Waystation was created earlier this summer with donated plants and Master Gardeners working with a local Girl Scout Troop who planted the garden.  The site is on the national Monarch Waystation registry.  The Woodstock Community Garden’s Growing Groceries planning sessions will continue working to be ready for workshops beginning in early March.  We’re looking forward to space for many more participants this time around.

For those members in Shenandoah County still needing volunteer hours, please remember that several Unit projects are ongoing:  Garden Fest plant activities with Stacey and seed sorting and packaging sessions with Elaine, along with events in other counties.


Hello Fall!  The last Lowe’s Help Table in the city of Winchester for the Fall season is October 7.  If you would like to volunteer, please contact project leader John Kummer.  Master Gardeners man the information table from 9-12pm.  You may also sign up on VMS under Frederick County events calendar of View all Events.

October’s Day Trippin Event is coming up.  You have the opportunity to enjoy the Fall Colors in Sky Meadow Park, in the company of fellow Master Gardeners on Friday, of October 20.  Participants will go on the one hour, docent led tour of a historical stone house and its kitchen garden and will give you one hour of Master Gardener continuing education hours.  After the tour, you’ll have time to enjoy the beauty of the Fall Season in the park.  Project leader is Lori Nuri- Kesner.  For details and when and where to meet for carpooling to Sky Meadows Park, please go on to VMS calendar either under Frederick County events or View all events to sign up OR contact Lori directly.

NEW PROGRAM!  We are starting a Library Series for kids ages 8-14 at Bowman Library called “Nature Through the Seasons for Kids”.  There will be one class a month on the third Wednesday of each month from 5-6pm, beginning in January.  The program will run from January thru December, so call has gone out from Lynn Hoffman, the project leader for anyone who is interested in being an instructor or helping.  Contact her at  A planning meeting to discuss topics and classes will be held at the Bowman Library on Wednesday, October 18, 5-6pm.  This is a continuation of the Bowman Library series for children by NSVMGA volunteers that began in 2013.  Participation is open for all Master Gardeners but will be a Frederick County project for submitting hours.

This month’s NSVMGA meeting will be held at Weber’s Nursery, so Frederick County will be hosting.  We would appreciate fellow MGs bringing refreshments/finger food for a late afternoon (2-4pm) gathering in the Weber’s Nursery shade greenhouse.  Wonderful opportunity to scope out perennials and annuals for sale at one of the favorite places for all of us Master Gardeners to shop.


Larry Haun’s pollinator garden at the National Park Service Headquarters was planted on October 4 with the help of 35 Sixth grade students from the Highland School in Warrenton. The class did this in memory of Larry.  He met with these students several times and worked with them to plant two other gardens at NPS HQ.  Members of the MGs, including Catherine Andriola, Bob Gail, Jennifer Huffman and Tammy Epperson and myself, went to assist with this final planting.  It was a great time for all of us and it was great to see these students do something that Larry loved.

GARDEN HELP WANTED from Lynn Hoffmann

Lynn recently got the following email:

I got your name from the Master Gardener website.  My wife, Susan, has been in a wheelchair for 8 years. She does not have the use of her hands anymore.  However, she was an excellent gardener.  One of the great loves in her life is her flower garden.  When her garden is in good condition and blooming, she is very happy.  When weeds begin to take over, she gets very sad.  I have been looking for someone that can help Susan get her garden in shape and keep it in shape through the seasons.  All of the local landscape services in the area do not seem to have the expertise needed to get the results Susan wants.  For our anniversary, I was wanting to be able to contract with someone that can help Susan with her garden.  Do you have the names of anyone in the Winchester Virginia area that can help us?  I would appreciate any help that you could offer. You are welcome to give me or Susan a call at our home – 540-665-9851 or me on my cell phone at 336-209-1849. Thanks, Barney Pannell

BARN SERIES WRAP UP by Lynn Hoffmann

We will decide if we want to do Barn Series Workshops next year very soon.  So if you think you are interested in teaching or assisting please email me at


If you have a garden, volunteer at a garden, or know someone with a garden, then please consider gathering seeds for the Seed Exchange @ Blandy.  

If you don’t have time or know how to clean and package them on your own, bring them to one of several Seed Packaging Workshops or give them to someone who will be at the workshops.  

Please contact me if you have seed heads or pods to donate.  I need to receive them before the Seed Packaging Workshop dates noted below.  

If the seeds come from one of the many gardens where NSVMGA members volunteer, let me know, and I will include the source on the seed label to ensure patrons at the Seed Exchange know they are benefiting from another NSVMGA project (and you’ll get some extra publicity!).

Everyone is invited to participate in one (or all) of the Seed Packaging Workshops, where we will clean and package seeds.  Please let me know if you plan to attend.  

  • Oct. 23, 6–9PM, Specht Residence, Woodstock
  • Nov. 1, 9AM–Noon, Dining Room at Blandy, Clarke County
  • Nov. 11, 9AM–Noon, Specht Residence, Woodstock

Seed Saving Tip:  For the best results to have viable seeds, leave fruit and flowers on the plants long past their usefulness for eating or beauty.  If you are a religious dead-header of spent flowers in your garden, most likely you are harvesting seeds before they are fully mature. Likewise, after you’ve enjoyed the bounty of your produce, leave a few vegetables on the plants so the seeds can continue to mature.

The picture of Gaillardia seed heads helps illustrate the point.  Although all the seed heads shown have dropped their petals, only the one in the very center is ready to be picked for saving seeds.


Twenty-four Master Gardeners attended the NSVMGA Photo Workshop Part 2, which took place at Belle Grove Plantation, Saturday, September 23rd.  Rob and Ann Simpson gave an excellent presentation on Nature Photography, first reviewing the basics, then moving on to what was new photographic territory for most.   Next, we all moved outside on this gorgeous day, and Rob and Ann offered help to individual MGs, while the rest of us roamed the Teaching Garden searching for subjects and practicing techniques learned in the class.  The Simpsons were fantastic teachers, and I would venture to guess that everyone who attended learned something.  Many of us vowed to learn more via classes and/or simply reading our camera user manual.  What a wonderful learning experience!


NSVMGA members were treated to beautiful weather for our September Association Meeting, at Shenandoah University’s Cool Spring Campus on the Shenandoah River.  

We learned about the ups and downs of trying to naturalize a former golf course from Site Manager, Gene Lewis.  Gene took a group of us on a short walk to a river overlook where a heron rookery and eagle’s nest can be seen in early spring before the trees leaf out.  Gene pointed out rare Bur Oaks along the way, as well as a number of invasives that he and his staff continue to battle.  

We then held our potluck outdoors under the pavilion, where MGs could enjoy the lovely weather, and as if that wasn’t enough, MGs were awarded pewter pins signifying 5, 10, 15, 20 & 25 years as a NSVMGA member.  Learning, camaraderie, recognition, great food and fantastic weather.






SEEN IN MY GARDEN by Lynn Hoffmann

EDITOR’S CORNER by Richard Stromberg

 Maples can be the most spectacular fall trees. Some of the species provide huge displays of bright orange to red leaves. They turn relatively early, so by the time to local weatherman declares “peak”, they may be gone.

The basic shape of maple leaves is well known. It is the centerpiece of the Canadian Flag. It lends its name to plants that have similarly shaped leaves like Maple-leaf Viburnum. The fruits grow in pairs with one seed in each pair and papery wings that help the seeds “helicopter” away from the parent tree. Fruit size, color, and the angle between the two sides can help determine the species.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum— red) always shows red somewhere. Even when everything is lush green in summer, the leaf stems of Red Maple are red. The leaves are up to four inches. They have five lobes though often the two small, bottom lobes are missing. The notches between the lobes are shallower than most other species. The edges of the leaves have small teeth all the way around. The fall leaf color can be yellow, orange, bright red, or maroon. The one-inch fruit is reddish with a tight angle between the pair. They tolerate many conditions and can be found almost anywhere.

Sugar Maple (A. saccharum-sugar) leaves are similar to Red Maple, but the edges have no teeth other than the lobe points. They are a little bigger, up to five inches. The fall leaf color can be yellow, orange, or bright red. The fruit have a wider angle than Red Maple and are not red, but the wings turn brown while the seed stays green. Sugar Maple is a northern species, so it appears mostly at high elevations in our area.

Silver Maple (A. saccharinum-sugary) leaves look raggedy compared to the previous two, with very deep notches between the lobes and lots of little points. The only fall color is yellow. The name “silver” derives from the silvery-white underleaf. The fruit are spread wide and have the largest wings of any native maple, up to 1 ¾ inches. They are far less common than Red Maple. They like to grow along rivers.

In addition to these large trees, three small (up to 30 feet), understory maple species are common along PATC trails: Striped Maple, Mountain Maple, and Boxelder.

Striped Maple (A. pennsylvanicum) is notable for its bark, green with white stripes. The stripes disappear on large tree trunks, but can be seen on branches. It has the largest leaves of any Maple in our area, up to seven inches. They usually have only the two top lobes and have teeth around the edges. The one-inch fruit are wide spread. They are common along mountain trails, mostly above 2,000 feet.

Mountain Maple (A. spicatum—spiked) lives up to its common name by growing mostly above 3,000 feet. The five inch leaves usually have three lobes though sometimes two more small ones appear near the bottom. They are very coarsely toothed. The fruit angle is not as wide as Striped Maple, and the fruit is only ½ inch. While Mountain Maples occur at 1,800 feet, they are most common above 3,000 feet.

Boxelder (A. negundo) is a small tree with pinnate (shaped like a feather) leaves of three, five or seven leaflets. The irregularly lobed leaflets can be mistaken for Poison Ivy. The name boxelder derives from the similarity of its whitish wood to Boxwood and the similarity of its leaves to some species of Elder. It is also called Ashleaf Maple because of the similarity of the structure of its leaves to Ash leaves. Linnaeus applied the specific “negundo “ because he thought Boxelder leaves resemble the leaves of Chinese Chaste Tree (Vitex negundo). Negundo is a native name. Boxelder readily fills in disturbed areas at low elevations, particulary along streams. It has completely filled in the area between the sunny part of the Shenandoah River State Park River Trail and the river.

Black Maple (A. nigrum—black) gets its common and species name from its dark bark. It is similar to Sugar Maple. Its leaves usually have only three lobes whereas Sugar Maple often has five and they are thicker and shinier.

Norway Maple (A. platanoides—like Platanus, the Planetree or Sycamore) is native to Europe, as the name implies. It is not common. It has been planted as a shade tree, like in front of the house I grew up in in DC. It is our only Maple with a diamond-like bark pattern.


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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