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June, 2017


  • Sunday, June 11,  4pm, Birdsong Pleasure Garden, Page County outdoors 96 Long Fort Road, Luray, VA 22835 (AKA longtime MGs Tom & Lesley Mack’s house).  The Mack’s will be our guest speakers and tour guides.  They describe Birdsong Pleasure Garden on their website:

“When we purchased our land, much of it was an unadorned, empty lawn with

a small apple, peach, and pear orchard.  Over many years of designing, planting, and maintenance,  we consider our beautiful land a park, an animal habitat, a bird sanctuary, a Pleasure Garden.  Like the Pleasure Gardens of England’s 18th and 19th century, conversational areas are nestled into the garden, or under arbors, and are designed to allow the visitor an opportunity to rest and contemplate nature’s wonders.  Also like the Pleasure Gardens of old, strolling, at your leisure, is encouraged over the many broad garden and woodland paths.  Landscaped areas, mountain vistas, and unique plantings are woven together over the gentle terrain.  Among our favorite garden areas are the perennial gardens, veggie garden, and orchards.  We also enjoy the herb garden, an allee’, a bonsai garden, evergreen tree display, hemerocallis gardens, ponds, and cooling water features.  We invite you to stroll at your leisure, in this a garden of pleasure and learning; relaxing, yet filled with ideas to take home.  As our guest, we hope your will sit, relax, listen to the birds, and enjoy every part of our special garden.’

More information about Birdsong Pleasure Garden at

Directions from the northwest (Frederick/Shenandoah Counties):

  1. Merge onto I-81 S toward Roanoke.
  2. Take the US-211 exit, EXIT 264, toward New Market/Timberville/Luray.
  3. Turn left onto VA-211/W Old Cross Rd.
  4. Turn left onto N Congress St/US-11 N/US-211 E.
  5. Take the 3rd right onto E Lee Hwy/US-211 E. Continue to follow US-211 E.
  6. Turn right onto Longs Rd/VA-615 (across from Cooter’s)
  7. Turn right onto Fort Long Rd.
  8. Take the 1st right onto Long Fort Rd.
  9. 196 Long Fort Rd, Luray, VA 22835-4933, 196 LONG FORT RD is on the right.

Directions from the northeast (Warren/Clarke Counties):

  1. Take US-340 south towards Luray
  2. Take ramp to US-211 West
  3. Turn left onto Longs Rd/VA-615 (across from Cooter’s)
  4. Turn right onto Fort Long Rd.
  5. Take the 1st right onto Long Fort Rd.
  6. 196 Long Fort Rd, Luray, VA 22835-4933, 196 LONG FORT RD is on the right.
  • Sunday, July 16, 4pm, Blandy Library, Paula Brownlee, Fall/Winter plantings
  • Sunday, August 20, 4pm, Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, French Price, Shenandoah Valley Farm to Table, Buy Fresh, Buy Local
  • Sunday, September 17, 4pm, Shenandoah University Cool Spring Campus, Gene Lewis, Going native process & research at Cool Spring Campus
  • Sunday, October 15, 4pm, Weber’s Nursery, Frederick, indoors/outdoors.  Peter Weber Right tree, right place
  • Sunday, November 2pm, 11/19, Warren County Govt Center, President/Volunteer Coordinator, Election/Business Meeting


  • Sunday, June 18, Belle Grove Barn Series:  Sauces Dips & Pico de Gallo ($25 per person)
  • June 22-25, the 2017 Master Gardener College at Virginia Tech  Enrollment will soon open.  More information, including the curriculum, is at
  • Sunday, July 9, Belle Grove Barn Series:  Edible Herbs & Soft Fruits of the Belle Grove Garden ($25 per person)
  • Sunday, August 6, Belle Grove Barn Series:  Air Plants: Those Tillandsia ($30 per person — $25 class; $5 supplies)
  • Sunday, September 10Belle Grove Barn Series:  Lavender: Crafting & Growing ($25 per person)
  • Sunday, October 22, Belle Grove Barn Series:  Williamsburg Holiday Display ($30 per person — $25 for class; $5 for supplies)

TRAINEE CLASS OF 2017 by Sharon Bradshaw

The last class meeting is behind us, and 15 of our Trainees will be Interns in a few days.  All 16 passed the exam, as we knew they would; one has completed her 50 project hours and will be given Active status.  They bring many talents to our Association and most are already involved in project activities.  The graduation ceremony was held in the Barn at Belle Grove at the end of Garden Fest.


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

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


Congratulations on a very successful GardenFest!  We had a record 930 visitors come through the gates not counting the many vendors and MGs at the event.

This year you exceeded our goals and made this the best one ever!  Your hard work throughout the past year really paid off and we brought in over $7,000 in plant sales (another record breaker)!  Second Hand Rose doubled our proceeds from last year and we raised more funds for our scholarships. 

You are the ones that make this event happen.  You have Friday set up down to a fine art and went so smoothly we were pretty much done by noon with the front.  Stacey Smith and the plant crew showed us how organization can make a tough job go smoothly and plants were cleaned, priced, and set out to perfection.  I believe it made the shopping experience more enjoyable for the public. 

Lynn Hoffmann really stepped up to the plate with the advertising.  We were in every paper in the valley and our fliers were everywhere.  Signs were displayed through the event and kept everyone informed as to where to go.  Elena Lycas made the beautiful flier than was a real eye catcher and Suzanne Boag made sure we were everywhere in Facebook. I believe this helped bring in new visitors.

Bob Gail, with his Ticket Writer crews and cashiers were able to keep up with the heavy flow of patrons.  It’s a wonderful sight to see so many people pulling little red wagons lined up to pay.  It can get hectic but they were able to keep the lines moving fast.  Another good example of excellent organization.

And Suzanne brought in the best vendors, and the layout of the front of the house made the flow for them and us bring everyone past the many booths.  The majority of the vendors I spoke with want to come back next year, and that’s always a good sign.  Speaking of vendors, I want you to know that the Eggs and Ears 4-H Club Food Vendors were sold out by 2:00 and made enough to fully fund sending 10 kids to camp!  A record for them too.

Ginny Smith and Lynn Hoffmann had the Raffle Booth and Scholarship Booth well stocked and helped advance the aid to future Horticulture students for the valley.

Joey Waters, Sharon Bradshaw, Mary Craig, and the Kid’s Trail crew made many kids smile and learn about pollinators.  They worked like crazy and put their hearts into making sure the children visiting had fun while learning.  Kudos to them!

Ann Levi’s Entrance crew were perfect greeters to our visitors, and Pat Casey and her crew logged many miles keeping the wagons rolling and loading plants. These are two tough jobs as these are the first and last things the public sees when entering and leaving, and making sure they have a pleasant beginning and end is so important.

A special thanks to Terry Hanahan for getting the wagons, and we’ve already decided we’ll double the wagons for next year.  Who knew you could load so many wagons in a horse trailer!

Bob Carlton, Rich Howell, and Sarah Kohrs answered questions all day long at the MG Info Booth and kept the public well informed on the many events and opportunities available at GardenFest as well as answering many gardening questions.  James Jones and his helpers answered questions and assisted the public in the Plant Area and I’m sure plants purchased will have a long and healthy life in their new homes.  And Larry Haun answered many visitor’s questions in the teaching garden.

Helen Lake put together a wonderful selection of speakers on pollination keeping in line with our theme this year.  I wonder what challenging theme we can come up with for next year, but I know she’ll be up to the challenge.  If anyone can track down a speaker on night pollinators, then I know she’ll be able to cover anything we come up with. 

Laurie Cocina and Diane Costello made Second Hand Rose run like a fine tuned watch.  The things they were able to sell was mind boggling.  The crowds were never ending at SHR and they were able to keep up with them.  And thanks to Angie Hutchinson for spending so many hours pricing and prepping items.  It made set up go much more smoothly.

Charles Newton had the Tool Sharpening area well under control, with his crew sharpening all day.  However, they said the amount of tools dropped off was less than usual.  Be sure to remember to bring your dull tools next year and have the team keep them in good working condition.

An extra special thank you to all of you, our MG and Intern volunteers for everything you did to help out with sweat equity on Friday getting the event set up in record time and manning the many, many stations throughout the event on Saturday.  Thanks to Susan Groom for getting us enough canopies and tables to cover every area, we even ended up with two extra canopies!  A feat that is unheard of.  Take down was done in record time too.  So thanks for sticking it out to the bitter end.

And another special thank you to the many, many MGs and Interns who hosted potting parties or who dug, potted, watered, and babied plants to donate to GardenFest.  You are the reason we had such a successful GardenFest.  We thank you for all your sweat equity.  Everything you are able to do, no matter big or small, helps make GardenFest the special event it is and promotes the education that VCE has trained us to do.


Please use the various CALENDARS on VMS to sign up to assist with the various county and unit projects, unless the Project Leader has provided for a different format.

Sign up by clicking on a calendar event, and then scrolling down to the “Volunteer” section at the bottom of the page.

If no sign-up is available after you have clicked on the event through the calendar, either the Project Leader wants you to sign up in a different way OR the number of persons needed have already signed up.

(Please do NOT sign up through “Projects” under the VMS Home Page “General Information” box.)

Please check with the Project Leader or your County Coordinator if you have any questions.

P.S.  We’re going to try and do a “Did You Know?” column for each newsletter.  If you have a question or concern or an issue that you think should be explained to the members, please let me know at


In the merry month of May, Frederick County Master Gardeners were a very busy group, between babysitting Gardenfest plants, manning Help Tables and Desks, youth programs and keeping up with all the weeds and planting in our own gardens, whew!  But I will highlight several events this month.

Co-hosting the Information Booth at Garden Fair at Blandy with Clarke County.   Although the weather was breezy (no, windy!), rainy with spots of sunshine, our Volunteers were able and willing to help the public with all questions.  Trainees stood side by side with veteran MGs interacting and documenting over 72 contacts.  Some of our veteran Master Gardeners went above and beyond in ensuring that our tent wouldn’t fly away on Sunday.  Thank you, Janet Keithley!

For the first time, ten Master Gardeners attended the Apple Blossom Festival’s Horticultural Luncheon, perhaps beginning a tradition for those interested in signing up to hear interesting speakers and see FFA students escort the Apple Blossom Queen and her entourage.  It was fun and apropos for our group.  Perhaps you’ll consider attending next year.  We’ll get the word out in early Spring.

By the time you read this, Micaela Lynn Shell of James Wood High School, Frederick County will have been awarded her $500.00 NSVMGA Scholarship during the 30 May Senior Recognition Night.  Micaela has been a very active member of FFA, National Honor Society and Key Club throughout her high school years, holding several leadership positions in those organizations.  She will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall and plans to major in conservation and natural resources.  

Gardening Friends by Sandra Himelright

Gardening is a social event at Daniel Morgan Middle School in Winchester.  We have an after school social group for children with Autism and their friends.  During the winter months we play board games, listen to music, and learn how to be a good friend.  In the spring, we learn about plants, plant parts, tools and how to grow flowers and vegetables from seeds.

We have been getting our hands dirty this spring making Mother’s Day flowers for our moms.  The students put the entire pot together, we learned about watering the plant and caring for it daily. The students enjoyed monitoring their plant growth and talking about it to their friends.

We had a wonderful time learning about the joys of gardening together and our moms were very pleased with their gifts.  


Worked in among the plant digging and potting parties, our active projects have continued.  Both the Strasburg Farmers’ Market and the Lowe’s Information Table have been active on their respective Saturday mornings and the Green Help Line continues to be monitored on a daily basis.  Several other projects do not have fixed dates for meeting to accomplish their goals.  To be on the notification list for any of our county projects, please use the VMS calendar to indicate your interest.  The project lead will be automatically notified that you have volunteered.


The Junior MGs had their final class on Native and Invasive Plants at Westminster Canterbury taught by Frank Baxter.  The kids’ first stop was Theresa’s garden.  This area of the grounds was first planned and cared for by one of the residents, named Theresa.  She started this expansive plant garden in the late 1990s at the edge of the wooded area of the campus.  She was in her 80’s at the time and added native plants, shade plants and numerous collections of azaleas.  She continued to garden up into her 90s and encouraged her fellow residents to help her keep it going.  We were treated to the information by two of the ladies that have continued to keep the garden going and were told the rest of the story.

When construction was set to expand the buildings, MGs and other groups came to save plants from the bulldozers.  Blandy was contacted and took a truck load of plants.  Over 400 azaleas there were saved, and all of them were of rare and unusual varieties from all over the world.  The garden today is in the understory of 50 plus year old trees.  There were trillum, milkweed, jack-in the pulpit and many more varities of native plants.

Once we finished at this wonderful spot, Frank started the kids toward the tree walk and the endless trails on the property.  He quizzed the kids on the definition of a native plant and an invasive species.  They had been given homework and the kids knew the differences.  The walk in the woods seemed like we were out in the forest, far from the city.  No traffic, no noise and only the green and wonderful explanations from Frank about of all the different variety of trees that were growing along the trails.  

The kids loved their outdoor class.  Westminster Canterbury is a wonderful opportunity for the MGs to use the campus to have some outdoor classes.  They have a new greenhouse that would be great for a propagation class and a pond area that would give the opportunity to teach the kids about water, pollution, ecology, frogs and birds and so much more.

As we end our training classes, I have to start thinking about next season.  We want to have some great classes for next year, so if you are interested in teaching a Jr MG class, or just helping with one, please let me know.

And, of course, the kids are looking forward to their summer of gardening in the C-CAP garden.  They have planted their veggies and are ready to start taking care of the garden every week, and we are hoping to harvest lots and lots of food for those who are less fortunate.

EDITOR’S CORNER by Richard Stromberg

Most flowers of most plant species have both the female and male parts, pistils and stamens, but in some species, flowers have only pistils or only stamens.  The botanical term for female-only flowers is pistillate and for male-only flowers, staminate, and, if it has both, it is called perfect.  Monoecious plants have separate male and female flowers on the same plant.  Dioecious plants are either male or female, i.e. a plant has either all male flowers or female flowers.  I am bringing this up now because I have been watching the monoecious and dioecious flowers this spring.  

If you want to have berries on a Holly, an experienced gardener knows you have to have one or more females and at least one male, because Hollies (Ilex) are dioecious.  Maybe you know that you do not want a female Ginko because of its stinky fruit.  But are you aware of some of the other common species that are dioecious:  Persimmon, Spicebush, Willows, Hops, Sassafras, Yew, Boxelder (but not other Maples) and Juniper (including Redcedar).  So is Ailanthus, which is why only some of the trees have those orange fruit masses.  Later on dioecious plants with fruit are obviously female, and we ignore the males.

As you can see, a lot of dioecious plants are woody but some are not, such as some of the Meadow-rues (Thalictrum).  

Telling plant sex is difficult if not impossible without flowers or fruit, and determining it from the flowers can be difficult because female flowers often have sterile stamen-like parts called staminodes and, occasionally, some fertile stamens.  

The sex of the dioecious Meadow-rues is easily determined.  The Early Meadow-rue scientific name is Thalictrum dioicum, announcing that it is dioecious.  Its male flowers dangle their pendulous stamens reminding me of a fringed, Victorian lampshade.  The female flowers have several pistils extending radially from the sepals.  They have no petals.

Male Sassafras flowers have nine long stamens.  Female flowers have six short staminodes surrounding a long pistil.  So they are easy to tell apart.  Similarly, male Spicebush flowers have nine long stamens while female flowers have a few staminodes, but the flowers are so small (7mm), they are hard to see (or photograph).

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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