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In Season

WINTER 2018

A publication of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program and the Virginia Tech Department of Horticulture Volume 32, Number 1, January 2018

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Dave Close State Master Gardener Coordinator John Freeborn Assistant Master Gardener Coordinator Devon Johnson Communications Project Coordinator Sue Edwards Master Gardener Program Development Gabrielle Sanderson Program Support and Implementation Intern

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.


Table of Contents 4 Letter from the State Coordinator 5 Cold Temperatures Have Minor Impact on Virginia Pests

7 Winter Garden Tips 8 Webinar Recap: Flowers, Flowers, and More Flowers

10 Communications Survey Thank You


Letter From The State Coordinator Greetings from Blacksburg! We are well into the new year, which is hard enough to believe, but our office foresees many good things to come throughout the 2018 calendar year. We had some staffing changes last fall, and with that comes fresh perspectives and new ideas that will hopefully lead to some good progress too. We will be gearing up for a strategic plan refresh meeting in the very near future. I am very excited about what will come from that process as we continue to evaluate who we are, what we do, and the value we bring to the Commonwealth of Virginia through our outreach, programming, and personal connections through all of our engaged Extension Master Gardener volunteers.

Dave Close, State Master Gardener Coordinator

We are also looking to create even more training modules and revise and edit the existing modules to best meet needs as we consider how we can improve our delivery of educational content through an asynchronous format. Even though we are not through our 2018 Master Gardener College, we are already making preparations for the 2019 Master Gardener College, which will be off-site for us and offered out in the state away from Blacksburg. We are working on securing space in Norfolk as we prepare for the 2021 International Master Gardener Conference, which is also in the works. Many exciting things are happening behind the scenes and we want you to be excited about them all too as we are able to provide more information on each of these events. During the latter half of 2017, our staff captured, edited, and released at least 10 YouTube videos on plant disease and insect problems in the home landscape. We worked with Mary Ann Hansen and Eric Day to produce these great resources. We will be laying out a plan soon to continue that project and effort throughout this calendar year. If you have not taken time to go and view any of them, please do so and give us your feedback! Soon after Devon joined our office, she conducted a communications survey. She received some great feedback in that process and we are looking to make some adjustments to how we communicate, including how we handle InSeason, our quarterly statewide newsletter. There may be other adjustments we make in our communications strategy, so stay tuned and stay informed. Check out our website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Instagram. Thank you for all you do on behalf of VCE and the Extension Master Gardener Program!

Dave Close 4


Image of a bagworm hanging from a branch

Cold Temperatures Have Minor Impact on Virginia Pests By: Devon Johnson Will our recent cold temperatures have any effect on common garden pests? Eric Day, manager of the Virginia Tech Insect ID Lab and Virginia Cooperative Extension Entomologist, weighs in.

With recent winter temperatures reaching single-digit lows across Virginia, a chorus of begrudging gardeners might be thinking, “Well at least these temperatures will kill garden pests!” But do cold temperatures really have an impact on pests? We asked Eric Day, manager of the Virginia Tech Insect ID Lab and Virginia Cooperative Extension Entomologist what effect, if any, cold weather might have on the populations of insect

pests that inhabit the Virginia landscape. “Generally cold weather has a minor impact on pests in the Mid-Atlantic region. Although this cold spell was lengthy, the temperatures were not record breaking,” says Day, though he adds that some scales, adelgids, and mites may be reduced in number. According to Day, gardeners can expect to see some mortality among insects that overwinter in exposed locations, for example bagworms overwintering on conifer branches, but our 5


recent cold temperatures will not wipe out entire populations of these insects. Invasive species like the hemlock woolly adelgid and emerald ash borer will also be relatively unaffected. Day notes that hemlock trees in exposed locations often already carry a reduced load of the woolly adelgid, and this winter’s cold temperatures will likely kill adelgid nymphs (or immature adelgids) overwintering on exposed branches, so these trees might get further relief. “The biggest mortality factor for insects is late frost,” says Day, “and unfortunately a late frost is also bad for plants.” The kinds of temperatures we’d need to kill large numbers of insects range around

-20 degrees Fahrenheit–which is also cold enough to damage many Virginia plants. According to Day, a good rule of thumb is that whenever it gets cold enough to substantially impact insect populations, plants also suffer cold damage. “People still need to plan to treat their trees and remain vigilant,” says Day, noting that winter is the best time to inspect plants for signs of infestation. While the cold temperatures might not kill the pests in your garden, there’s still plenty of time to bundle up and head outside to check for signs of bagworm, scale, and mites before spring foliage fills in providing these insects protective cover! ■

Alert: Spotted Lanternfly Now In Virginia

Lycorma delicatula, or the spotted lanternfly, was detected in Fredrick County, Virginia on January 10, 2018. The spotted lanternfly is a potentially very serious pest of grapes, peaches, hops, and a variety of other crops.

From the spotted lanternfly Virginia Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet: “SLF is native to China, India, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In September 2014, the first detection of spotted lanternfly in the US was confirmed in eastern Pennsylvania. In 2017, the range expanded to 13 Pennsylvania counties and a single county in both Delaware and New York; the geographical range is likely to expand further. SLF is likely to have arrived from China up to two years earlier than first detected on shipping materials, pointing to its ability to overwinter successfully. It is highly invasive and can spread rapidly when introduced to new areas. This is attributed to its wide host range (more than 70 host plant species) and a lack of natural native enemies.” Please visit https://ext.vt.edu/agriculture/ commercial-horticulture/spotted-lanternfly.html 6

for more information on the spotted lanternfly, including photographs of the insect’s immature stage and egg masses. If you identify the spotted lanternfly in your yard, you can collect a specimine and take it to your local Extension office, or you can submit a picture to: https://ask.extension.org/groups/1981/ask. ■ Image of the spotted lanternfly


Winter Garden Tips

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Mulch, mulch, mulch! Not only does mulch block those pesky weeds from popping up, but it also helps to keep the soil warm and moist. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/ pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-724/426-724.pdf

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Add some color to your winter garden! Winter witch hazel is a great plant to add that pop of interest when you need it most! http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-459/430-459. html

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Did you know that some plantings can save you money on heating and cooling costs over time? Add a windbreak to reduce some of that bitter winter wind and look beautiful at the same time! https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426712/426-712_pdf.pdf

If you like to look at birds all throughout the year, make sure they have a steady source of food and water during these cold seasons. http://pubs.ext. vt.edu/420/420-006/420-006.html If being outside is not your forte, bring the bulb garden inside to you! Some examples of bulbs are paperwhite narcissus or an amaryllis. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/ pubs_ext_vt_edu/HORT/HORT-76/HORT-76-PDF.pdf Just like people have to bundle up in winter coats for protection from the cold winter winds, so do young trees and shrubs! Burlap can be used to protect those larger plants from the destructive cold. https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_ edu/426/426-500/426-500_pdf.pdf Beware of winter pests! Even in the winter there can be insects out to get your plants! For example, the winter grain mite can make your fields turn grayish or silvery. https:// pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/444/444-037/444-037_pdf.pdf If you’re dreaming of the beach, you can put some cold-hardy palm trees in your landscape to make it more tropical! The needle palm would be a great addition to the sporadic Virginia climate. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/3005/3005-1446/3005-1446.html Don’t let your ponds freeze completely if you have aquatic landscapes! Prevent this by either continually running the water pump, using heaters, or even removing the ice by hand. https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-042/426-042_ pdf.pdf Instead of salting your icy surfaces, try using sand or sawdust instead! Not only do they provide traction to those slippery sidewalks, but they also protect your plants! http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-500/426-500_pdf.pdf


Dr. Holly Scoggins poses with Phlox divaricata in the Hahn Horticulture Garden

Webinar Recap: Flowers, Flowers, and More Flowers by: Devon Johnson

A new educational resource brings attention to the plant diseases common to Virginia gardens

Early blooming flowers are good for us and they are good for pollinators, according to Dr. Holly Scoggins, associate professor in the Department of Horticulture and president-elect of the national Perennial Plant Association. Dr. Scoggins recently joined the Extension Master Gardener State Office for our February webinar to share her recommendations for springblooming flowers for Virginia gardeners. Dr. Scoggins’ recommendations include some familiar favorites you might be growing already (like Virginia bluebells), as well as some under used or new cultivars that make great additions to your spring garden. According to Dr. Scoggins (and as many Master Gardeners can attest), snowdrops are the earliest, 8

which can result in them being buried/damaged by snow. Other early flowers include: Eranthis hyemalis – winter aconite, a geophyte that works well after blooming as ground cover in a shade garden Sanguinaria canadensis – bloodroot, a native that makes a good garden plant. Even after your bloodroot has flowered, its attractive foliage will persist. Anemone blanda – Grecian windflower - the blue form is the most common, but also comes in white and pink. The flowers close up in cloudy/


inclement weather.

New cultivars include ‘Gold Heart’ and ‘Valentine’.

Mertensia virginica – Virginia bluebells, a native shade perennial. Though Virginia bluebells appear early, they are usually ephemeral (foliage will disappear later in the season), and should be mixed with plants that will take up space later in the season (for example, ferns or hostas).

Dicentra eximia – fringed bleeding heart, a native bleeding heart that is smaller than Lamprocapnos spectabile but blooms persist beyond spring into summer.

Stylophorum diphyllum - celandine poppy, which will reseed itself nicely throughout the garden. The clear yellow flowers go especially well with Virginia bluebells (according to Dr. Scoggins, this combination makes you look like a plant genius!) Brunnera macrophylla – Siberian bugloss, a colony-forming plant that retains nice foliage throughout the summer, though it blooms in the spring Myosotis sylvatica – woodland forget-me-not, another nice re-seeder. Although this plant may be considered invasive in the upper Great Lakes region, Dr. Scoggins has not heard of any problems in our region

Podophyllum peltatum – mayapple, another well-known woodland native. Mayapple can spread rapidly by rhizomes so give it room to run amok. Podophyllum pleianthum – Chinese mayapple, a taller, fun and funky alternative to native mayapple Paeonia tenuifolia – fernleaf peony, with unusual foliage and bright cerise flowers that just glow in the late spring garden Dr. Scoggins notes bare patches of ground are apt to fill in with weeds - so embrace plants that spread--whether by forming colonies, creeping, or reseeding themselves. If you have space in your garden, try these earlyblooming flowers for some much-needed spring pizzazz! ■

Galium odoratum – sweet woodruff, a rambling, shallow-rooted ground cover that is easy to remove if it spreads too far Phlox subulata - moss phlox, a native that produces blue, lavender, white, or hot pink flowers. The spreading habit is good for softening hardscapes and does well in sun or part-shade Phlox divaricata – woodland phlox, also native, blooms later than moss phlox Phlox stolonifera – creeping phlox, also native, has rounded leaves Aquliegia canadensis – Canadian columbine, a native often advertised as a hummingbird attractor; though, in the western part of Virginia, it usually blooms before hummingbirds are out.

Dr. Scoggins’ presentation, including photos, is available to current EMGs on the EMG website

Lamprocapnos spectabile – Japanese bleeding heart is an heirloom favorite for the shade garden. 9


Communications Survey Thank You! by: Devon Johnson Thank you to all the Master Gardeners, coordinators, and agents who took our survey!

Our biggest thank you to all the Master Gardeners, coordinators, and agents who took our November communications survey! We announced this survey via email and received 662 responses in total. Many respondents had very good suggestions for ways we can improve our communications process—including this newsletter! Our communication survey asked for feedback regarding our State Office publications (including In Season and the bi-weekly email), awareness of State Office social media platforms, as well as information on our volunteer’s use of social media. When asked about this newsletter, 273 people responded saying they read In Season, while 22 read In Season on our website. Quite a few respondents noted that they do not receive In Season. Our suggestion for readers who may not receive our quarterly In Season emails is to check your spam folder! Of those surveyed, 264 people did not know the State Coordinator’s Office uses social media and

278 people had not seen the videos we make and post to our YouTube channel. We will be making a greater effort to promote our State Office social media presence, as well as our video series, this year! If you do not currently follow us on social media, you can find our profiles via the buttons below this article! Moving forward we will be incorporating some of the other changes recommended by survey respondents. For example, this newsletter will be posted to Issue.com, a mobile-ready publishing platform that allows readers to view print documents on smartphones. In addition, this newsletter is being made available in a black and white “printerfriendly” version with many of our large images removed so that volunteers may choose to print out this newsletter without using a large amount of printer ink. In the future, we will also try to publish In Season closer to the beginning of each season, rather than halfway through. Thank you again to everyone who took our survey. We really appreciate it and your feedback forms an invaluable resource for us. ■

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New State Office Blog!

The State Office launched a new blog where we will post updates, interviews, and new research relevant to Virginia gardeners. 10

Visit our new blog at: http://blogs.lt.vt.edu/mastergardener/vce-mastergardener-blog/

In Season - Winter 2018  

The winter 2018 edition of our internal newsletter

In Season - Winter 2018  

The winter 2018 edition of our internal newsletter

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