Printable Newsletter Version

July, 2017


  • Sunday, July 16th, 4:00pm, State Arboretum at Blandy Library.  Longtime Master Gardener Paula Brownlee will  talk about Fall & Winter Plantings.  Please remember to wear your name tags and bring something yummy to share for the potluck following the meeting!  Paula Brownlee loves all the plants growing in Virginia–but she particularly treasures vegetables and herbs.  She has had a garden almost all her life. Her father started her off in England, and since then she has grown gardens in five states and three regions of Virginia—Roanoke, Fairfield County and here.  Trained as a chemist, she has several special interests within horticulture—e.g. in soils, irrigation, and the use of composts and nutrients.  Nevertheless, her real passion for gardening lies in nurturing and enjoying the beauty of flowers, shrubs, and landscapes and in delighting in preparing and eating the edible produce!

Directions to the State Arboretum, 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Boyce, VA 22620:

From Winchester (About 10 miles) – Take Route 50 East (Exit 313 from I-81), the Arboretum is approximately 10 miles on the right, about one mile past the intersection of Route 50 and Route 340.

From points north – Take I-81 South to Route 50 East (Exit 313) at Winchester, Va. The Arboretum is 10 miles east of Winchester on the right, about one mile past the intersection of Route 50 and Route 340.

From points south – Take I-81 North to Route 50 East (Exit 313) at Winchester, Va. The Arboretum is 10 miles east of Winchester on the right, about one mile past the intersection of Route 50 and Route 340.

  • 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 19, 2pm, Warren County Govt Center, President/Volunteer Coordinator, Election/Business Meeting


  • 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)


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, 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!
      • 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

GARDENFEST 2018 by Cy Haley

We have to start thinking about GardenFest 2018.  This will be our 15th annual GardenFest!  The wrap up meeting for this year’s event produced lots of positive feedback.  There will be some changes to next year’s event, but aren’t there always changes? That’s what happens when you have a great bunch of volunteers pooling their ideas and being willing to work together and improve on success.

2018 GardenFest’s theme will be “Gardening with Wildlife”.  Sound intriguing?  We thought so.  This is always a hot button topic for home gardeners.  This will reach out to those who want to prevent wildlife from eating their gardens and those who want to attract wildlife to their gardens.  Remember, wildlife can be anything from bees to bears and we’ll have a wide range with this theme.  So put on those thinking caps and watch for the next meeting announcement.

With 930 patrons this year we will be upping the ante and you know that means plants, plants, plants.  Start staking what you have too much of in your garden now and you’ll be ahead of the game when it’s time to pot up plants.  And remember, if you have a lot to donate you can reach out to Stacey Smith and get on her list for potting parties next spring.

2017 GARDENFEST PICTURES by Lynn Hoffman


Start now to save seeds.  So far I’ve collected lupine, rose campion, and love in a mist seeds for the seed exchange.  As your plants mature or as you are deadheading remember to collect the seeds.

Also, don’t forget the heirloom vegetable seeds. (No hybrids, please.)  Let some lettuce, radish, beans, squash, etc. go to seed.  We always have too much at my house and it’s easy to let a couple of plants seed out.


  • Only expenses approved by County Coordinators or Unit Project Chairs will be reimbursed.
  • Members need to complete a Reimbursement Voucher (available on VMS under “Newsletters/Documents” under the title Reimbursement NSVMGA Projects & Tax Exempt Form).
  • It must be approved by the County Coordinator/Unit Project Chair before being submitted to the Treasurer for payment.
  • All receipts must be attached to the voucher.

Upon receiving the approved Reimbursement Voucher with accompanying receipts, the Treasurer will issue a check to the member for out-of-pocket expenses.


On May 21 at Clarke County High School a $500.00 scholarship was presented to Cameron Terzian on behalf of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association.  Cameron was chosen based on the committee recommendations and meeting the educational requirements.  Our next project is Clarke County Fair in August.


We’ve found that having our plant clinic dates in the local newspapers’ community calendar section results in people coming to the Strasburg Farmers’ Market and the Lowe’s Help Desk with specific questions to ask.  Frequently, they specify that they came because they read about us in the newspaper.

County MGs are busy this summer giving talks to community groups about MG activities:  Sarah Kohrs will be sharing information about Corhaven Graveyard in the ongoing library series on July 1 at the New Market library and Elaine Specht will talk about seed collecting this summer to both the Shenandoah Garden Club in Woodstock and the New Market Garden Club.

The New Market Rain Garden is thriving and the ‘spring cleaning’ that the Class of 2017 conducted during their mapping project has continued to facilitate the demonstration garden’s maintenance.

During the last Green Help Line office hours in the VCE classroom, a woman called in with a question about the best time to dig and divide hyacinths.  As we discussed the procedure, I asked about the last time the bulbs were divided.  She shared that a few years ago she dug up a few and divided them, but most had not been divided since they were planted by her grandmother right after her grandfather passed away.   The bulbs came from France and he was killed there just before the end of WWI.  She wanted only a few and didn’t think her brother would want many either.  I urged her to share with friends, and if there were any remaining to let us know and we would contact others who might be interested in planting them.

FREDERICK COUNTY REPORT by Helen Lake & Pat Burslem

As part of the continuing series of reports from Frederick County project leaders, this month’s submission is from veteran Master Gardener Pat Burslem on the Virginia Avenue Charlotte-DeHart Elementary School Garden Club.

The garden was started 3 years ago as a project of Master Gardeners and Shenandoah University.  A grant was written and won.  It stated that the garden would grow nutritional food and also acquaint students with the basics of gardening.  University students teach lessons as a class project using Master Gardening materials.  A teacher from the school works with the project and serves as a liaison between the university and the school.

The program has a fall and spring session.  Raised beds were built and are used to plant vegetables.  As part of the program, students plant, maintain, and harvest vegetables.  Healthy snacks are provided which expose students to a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Second graders as well as fourth graders have been part of the program.  Literature is an important part of the curriculum.  Hands on lessons keep the students engaged.  Feedback from university and elementary students has been very positive.

We plan to continue the program, adding herbs and perennials.


The 30th anniversary of VCE Master Gardener College was a special time for all.  13 NSVMGA members attended this year, the most we ever had:

Suzanne Boag
Patricia Crandall
Cy Haley
Terry Hanahan
Larry Haun
Angie Hutchinson
Shan Kilby
Helen Lake
Ann Levi
Carolyn Rutherford
Stacey Smith
Sandy Ward
Carolyn Wilson

Be sure to ask one about it next time you see them.


Donna Griffin and I attended a Blue Ridge PRISM lecture on invasive plants at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at JMU on June 29.  This organization is a group of volunteers who collaborate to remove invasive plants from their properties.  The counties involved are primarily those that share the Shenandoah National Park and include Warren and Clarke Counties.  Many of the members have property that borders Park land.  The organization’s website is well worth checking out:  One of the sections has identification pages with excellent photos for identifying plants on their list of “Terrible Twelve” invasives.  Of course, there are many more than that, but the organization has targeted these to give the most focus for eradication.  Many of us live within or in close proximity to public land and should be aware of our responsibility in managing the invasive plants on our own properties.  The end of my development’s access road ends within the George Washington National Forest.  I’ve created my own “Dirty Dozen” list, and have been slowly fighting my way into the woods behind my house that are in a contiguous line of hardwoods coming down Short Mountain from the forest to the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.  Yes, we do have an occasional visiting bear and several wandering deer, and no, they do not eat invasive plants.


On Friday, June 23, seven Master Gardeners and Mark (Lori Kesner’s husband), along with their intrepid guide, Steve Bailes, hiked the Ice Mountain Preserve located at North River Mills near Capon Bridge, WV, and returned safe and sound and ecstatic about the trip!

According to their web site, Ice Mountain gets its name from the refrigeration effect that takes place inside its talus—a sloping mass of boulders at the foot of a mountain.  In cooler months, dense, cold air sinks deep into the talus, and ice masses form inside.  As the weather warms up, the cooler air flows out of vents among the rocks at the bottom of the slope.  It’s here, at the foot of the mountain, in times past many local children would eagerly gather ice for ice cream and lemonade in July.”  Please check the website for more information.

The plants that grow near the ice vents are species normally found in boreal regions, like Alaska, making them unique around here.  One example is the Dwarf Dogwood (aka Bunchberry , Cornus canadensis), four tiny dogwood leaves close to the ground.

While the mountain wasn’t ice, the ground on which we walked and the vents that were open felt wonderful at 45 degrees, and we took advantage of the cool temps when we could.

We saw beautiful wild Great Laurels (Rhododendron maximum) and Cucumbertrees (Magnolia acuminata), and picnicked on wild blueberries along the way.  We also visited the top of the mountain where Steve pointed out sites and family homesteads in the countryside.

The hike was free of charge but requires a reservation and guide from the Nature Conservancy.  I highly recommend taking the time out of your busy schedule to make this trip.  The scenery is stunning, the hike invigorating, and the guide thoroughly knowledgeable about the site and the surrounding area.

Thanks to Lori Kesner for arranging the hike.

SEED EXCHANGE @ BLANDY 2018 by Elaine Specht

It’s already time to begin planning for the 2018 Seed Exchange @ Blandy.  I’m starting just a bit early this year because the Success in the Garden Series at Bowman Library includes yours truly presenting a session on saving seeds.  For those of you that may be unsure how to save seeds, the library talk on August 12 will give you a good foundation to get started.  Then, you can join us for several “workshop” sessions throughout the fall to get plenty of hands-on practice packaging seeds for the exchange.

Please also note the planning meeting September 9.  To be sure the event continues to improve and stay fresh, I welcome any and all input at the official planning kick-off meeting.  

Mark your calendars for all the following dates leading up to the “Main Event,” which will be on that last Saturday in January 2018:

  • Save Seeds, Save Money, and (maybe) Save the Planet, Success in the Garden Series @ Bowman Library Talk, Aug. 12, 2PM
  • Event Planning Kick-off Meeting, Fort Valley Nursery Café, Sept. 9, 10–11AM
  • Seed Packaging Workshop & Pizza, Specht Residence, Woodstock, Oct. 23, 6–9PM
  • Seed Packaging Workshop at Blandy, Nov. 1, 9AM–Noon
  • Seed Packaging Workshop & Muffins, Specht Residence, Woodstock, Nov. 11, 9AM–Noon
  • Set Up: January 26, 2018, 3PM
  • Seed Exchange Day: January 27, 2018, 10AM-2PM (Volunteers will need to arrive a bit earlier and stay later for cleanup)

Please contact Elaine Specht or sign up on VMS if you wish to volunteer.


EDITOR’S CORNER by Richard Stromberg

Having discussed dioecious plants last month, I’ll discuss monoecious plants this month.  On monoecious plants the male and female organs are found on the same plant but in different flowers.  

Vegetable gardeners know that cucumbers and squash plants are monoecious.  They can see the larger female flowers atop the nascent fruit and the smaller male flowers atop narrow stems.

Many species in the grass family (Poaceae) are monoecious.  An exaggerated example is corn, with the male flowers on top of the plant (the “broom”) wafting pollen into the wind and the female flowers lodged in the ear lower down with pistils from each kernel coming out of the top of the ear (the “silk”).

One of the differences between a sweet potato and a yam is the sweet potato is monecious and the yam is dioecious.

Many tree families are monoecious:  pine (pine, spruce, fir, hemlock) birch (birch, hazelnut, hazelnut, hornbeam), and beech (beech, chestnut, oak).

Staminate oak flowers grow on long, hanging catkins while pistillate flowers grow as upright as singular flowers or small spikes.  Chestnut flowers all grow on catkins, but the catkins are stiffer than oak catkins so they don’t hand down.  Chestnuts have two types of catkins: long ones with only staminate flowers and shorter ones with pistillate flowers at the base and staminate flowers further out.

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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