November, 2017


  • Sunday, November 19, 2-4pm, Warren County Government Center, Front Royal.  We will celebrate our accomplishments for 2017 and elect officers and approve our budget for 2018.

DirectionsFrom the north end of Front Royal (I-66 exit 6 or Virginia Route 55 from Strasburg), take US Route 522 south.  After you cross the second bridge (South Fork of The Shenandoah River), turn left at the stop light. Follow until you come to the next stop light and turn left onto Commerce Avenue.  Proceed through the 6th Street light and come three more blocks (Post Office sign will be at the corner of 3rd & Commerce Avenue). Turn right onto 3rd Street, and the County Government Building is on the left. 

From the south end of Front Royal, take US 340 north through town.  Turn right onto 2nd Street at Auto Zone.  Go 2 blocks and turn left after you pass Warren Avenue into the Government Center parking lot (just before you get to the stop sign at Commerce Street).


  • 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.  
  • Saturday, November 17 — Day Trippin’ to Mt. Vernon, George and Martha Washington’s home, with a full itinerary developed by MG Laurie Cocina.  Director of Horticulture Dean Norton will provide us with a one hour tour of the historic gardens and landscape.
  • 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.  


We’re bringing this year to an end.  Congratulations for your accomplishments this year.  We look forward to 2018.  I want to thank all of you for your hard work and dedication.  We went above and beyond previous goals, both in helping and educating the public and in fund raising.  Although most projects have ended, you still have opportunities for earning hours.  Several opportunities are listed in the calendar.  If you are not able to get all of your 20 project or 8 education hours in before the end of the year, please let your county coordinator know.  We can help you maintain your status as a VCE MG.  And remember, you can still earn hours by attending the November Association Meeting. Hope to see you all there!

HOW TO UPDATE YOUR “INTERESTS” ON VMS AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT? by Susan Garrett                                       

To update your interests on VMS, go to the first box on the left side of the VMS Home Page entitled “Your Information”, and you will see the following three possibilities

If you click on the first choice, “Edit Your Profile”, you will see that you can “Edit Your Interests” near the bottom of the page.  You should review this list of your interests once a year as they may change.  Knowing who has that interest is very helpful to MGs who are working on a project, and emails can be sent an to a targeted group.

Note: “Interests” are also used to send emails to specific administrative groups within the Unit: for example, the NSVMGA Board or members in a specific county.


With freezing temperatures predicted, I checked the indoor-outdoor thermostat several times during the night of October 26.  It didn’t register 32°F until 7AM, so I was hoping that some of the annuals would last a bit longer and the Garden Fest assortment transplanted several days before would be all right.  A few minutes later, I bundled up and went out to scrape the car windows before driving to an early appointment.  I was starting the engine when the look of the mulched area beside me registered in my mind.  There was a perfectly round hole in the ground.  This was not good – I had planted shrubs the day before.  When I jumped out of the car to look more carefully, I found four of the six Montauk daisies and one Staghorn Sumac were on top of the ground with the beginning of an excavation for a second Sumac.  They were covered with frost and I didn’t have time to replant before leaving.  

A couple of hours later, they were back in the ground seemingly without damage.  A quick check of the raised “procrastination” beds showed all Garden Fest plants in their proper places.  The bear who occasionally wanders our area of the mountain evidently thought a feast of grubs would be in the freshly dug soil.  She was surely disappointed, but I couldn’t detect any remaining amendments left in the holes.  Hope it gave her indigestion.  Hoping that the chilly rain and wind have driven her to an early move into her den is probably optimistic.  Determining if the shrub will survive is difficult since the leaves look wilted on all the deciduous shrubs.  The zinnias and ferns are gone, but the mums are still looking good.  

The collaborative multi-organization sponsored rain barrel and composting workshop in Woodstock in October was well attended with enthusiastic participants.  Congratulations to all who worked to make it a success.  Outdoor based projects are preparing for the cold weather and dormancy as planning for indoor projects continues.  If you are interested in being notified of committee meetings for any project, volunteer for that project on VMS and the lead will automatically receive an email notice.


The month of October was a busy one, deciding if to keep those houseplants outside on the porch, turnover the vegetable garden and cut back some or ALL of the annuals.  Temperatures in the mid to high 70s make those are decisions tough.  Climate change or Indian Summer?

Many of our Frederick County volunteers tied up the last parts of their programs this month.  Lowe’s Table bid adieu, and the Greenline will begin to be monitored on a monthly basis (online) by volunteers until April, 2018.  The Farmer’s Market in Old Town Winchester has closed for this year with reports from project lead Shan Kilby recommending we continue our presence with an information booth in 2018’s Farmer’s Market.  

Day Trippin’ in October was a big hit at Sky Meadows Park!  Ten Master Gardeners and one spouse enjoyed a gorgeous fall day, taking in the tour of the farmhouse and its garden.  

November Day Trippin’ destination is bound for Mt. Vernon, home to George and Martha Washington, with a full itinerary developed by MG Laurie Cocina. It is scheduled for 17 November.  Director of Horticulture Dean Norton will provide us with a one hour tour of the historic gardens and landscape.  Pictures to follow in next month’s newsletter!

For the second consecutive year, Master Gardeners were invited to participate in Continental Corporation’s (previously known as O’Sullivan Film) annual Wellness Expo. This is a continuing program for employees to select and participate in a variety of programs, encouraging them to a healthier lifestyle.  In the first portion of our programs, Paula Brownlee and Helen Lake participated in the “Super Foods Vegetable Workshop”.  

Paula, spoke to a mixed group of employees about trying super foods, providing a tasty recipe of her own, which she brought in a pot for everyone to try–wildly successful. Paula, assisted by Helen, also led a hands on workshop on propagating varieties of basil and potting up onion sets to take home and harvest.

The week after, NSVMGA had an information booth supported by Paula Brownlee in the lead with Russ Watkins and Catherine Andriola handing out event and informational pamphlets and keeping up with lively exchanges with over 160 employees.

We’ll be gathering at my house on November 5 for a review of this year’s programs and discussion of new programs or outreach efforts in our county and community for 2018 with time for some socializing too.

As we wind down Frederick County’s NSVMGA programs for 2017, our volunteers have much to be proud of in our many events and projects that contribute to a better educated public in horticulture and our environment.


The MG Christmas workshop will be at Belle Grove on Sunday, November 12 at 2 pm.  We have a great group signed up but still have room for more people.  

If you didn’t email prior to this, please email to let me know that you are coming.  I want to make sure I have enough materials.  


Next summer’s planning has begun for classes at Belle Grove.  The title/theme this summer will be “The Days of Wine and Roses”.  Original, huh?

We would like to incorporate some local wineries to demonstrate their wine.  After the tasting, the students will then work on a garden theme project or idea.  This is still in the planning stage and some things need to be worked out.

I am looking for people interested in working at the workshops, teaching or coming up with ideas.  If you think this might be something you are interested in, please email  We will have a planning meeting and I will put out the date once it is set.

EDITOR’S CORNER by Richard Stromberg

Last month I discussed Maples.  Besides the bright autumn show they put on, they also brighten up spring with their flowers.  

Silver Maples give you flowers to look at already in February, before they leaf out.  The pistils that protrude from the short-stemmed female flowers are red and split into a y-shape.  The short-stemmed male flowers have a profusion of light yellow stamens.

Red Maples show up soon after.  Flowers appear early in spring before the leaves appear.  They droop on thin stems about an inch long.  Female flowers are red and male flowers yellow and red.  The fuzzy red pistils protrude and split into a y-shape.  

The red glow of a flowering Red Maple is not as vast as its red-orange fall display but is a delightful harbinger of things to come.

Boxelders have long, drooping male and female flowers starting in March.


Sugar Maples’ pale yellow flowers dangle as the leaves start to come out in April.  

Up in the mountains Striped and Mountain Maples start to flower in May.  Both flower after the leaves are nearly fully grown.  Striped Maples’ flowers have noticeable greenish-yellow petals and hang down in a long cluster while Mountain Maples’ petal-less, yellow flowers stand up in an erect spike.  

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.

Comments are closed.