Page 1

In Season


A publication of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program and the Virginia Tech School of Plant and Environmental Sciences Volume 33, Number 1, February 2019

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

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.

Content Letter from the State Coordinator Dave Close offers updates from 2018 and goals for 2019.

Internationally Known Entomologist John Goolsby, PhD. To Speak at 2019 College

4 5

Dr. Goolsby will cover the process and potential of biological control for invasive species in his keynote address.

Planting Seeds of Hope Green Spring Master Gardeners helped develop a therapeutic garden at a local hospital.


Update: New EMG Website


Loudoun Project Helps Property Owners Plan Smart Landscapes


Loudoun’s My Backyard program helps rural and suburban residents develop landscapes that reduce runoff.

Winter Garden Tips


When it Rains, it Pours


An introduction to stormwater management.

State Fair 2018 Master Gardeners helped the public learn about conservation and helathy lawns at the annual EMG State Fair booth.





Letter From the State Coordinator Happy winter! Here in Blacksburg we have only had a few winter weather events so far, but it is still early, and I do anticipate a few more events that might involve some of that white fluffy stuff. That should not (and it generally does not) put a damper on Extension Master Gardener activities regardless of where you live in Virginia! The 2018 calendar year proved to be quite busy at the State Office, and that was true all the way through the fall. We hosted three leadership trainings scattered across the commonwealth with good attendance overall. We were pleased with the comments and results of the evaluations of all three of those trainings, which centered on program development and improvement, communications, and marketing. All of the presentations and materials from those trainings are available for review online, let us know if you are interested and we can direct you to them. We are continuing to plan and make progress on Master Gardener College 2019 and the much anticipated 2021 International Master Gardener Conference. Both will be held in Norfolk in September of both years. We are excited about the opportunity to invite Extension Master Gardeners from across the continent and abroad for the international conference. With respect to 2019, we anticipate registration opening in early May. Stay tuned and be watching for an email and keep an eye on the biweekly updates. Our statewide infographic has been updated with volunteer data and stats from the 2018 calendar year. We have also created and released an annual report one-pager which hits a few key highlights from last year. Here is a list of a few things we have planned for 2019: • Improved website

• Expanded resources offered by EMG state office • 2019 Webinar series (schedule coming soon!)

• Additional YouTube videos on common plant diseases and insects Stay tuned for the release of these resources and stay on watch for all that will be announced about MG College 2019! All of us here at the State Office in Blacksburg hope you are staying warm and cozy during our coldest months. I expect you are having fun planning and skimming seed catalogs in anticipation of warmer soils and sunny skies!

Dave Close 4 | In Season | Winter 2019

Dave Close Master Gardener Coordinator

Internationally Known Entomologist John Goolsby, PhD. To Speak at 2019 Master Gardener College Dr. John Goolsby, Research Entomologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, will highlight a biological control success story and discuss the process and potential of using insects to control invasive species.

By: Devon Johnson Master Gardener College 2019 is set to feature Dr. John Goolsby of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) as a keynote speaker. Dr. Goolsby is an internationally known research entomologist working on biological control of invasive species. Dr. Goolsby’s keynote address will highlight a major success story for biological control: the reduction of populations of giant reed, or Arundo donax, along the Rio Grande River by introduction of multiple insect species.

“Giant reed is an invasive weed introduced from Spain and widely distributed in Northern Mexico and along the Rio Grande River. It didn’t have any herbivore insects that kept it under control in this environment,” says Dr. Goolsby. “There were multiple reasons to reduce the amount of this invasive giant reed. The Spanish name, el ladrón de Agua, actually means ‘the water thief,” so reducing it had the benefits of not only reducing water use in the desert southwest, but also improving visibility for border

In Photo Above: Dr. John Goolsby talks to “future scientists.” Image: USDA via Flickr. In Season | Winter 2019 | 5

patrol, and helping wildlife.” Dr. Goolsby’s talk will include details on the years-long research process of identifying a suitable predator insect for giant reed from its native Spain and evaluating any potential risks of introduction or alternative control measures. He will also cover the rigorous regulatory process required before any new species can be introduced for biological control. “This subject is really about how science works to solve problems, how federal agencies work with each other, and how to work with another country,” says Frank Reilly, a Central Rappahannock Master Gardener and also involved in the project.

“I hope to give Master Gardeners an idea of the damage that we incur from invasive species and the general way biological control works,” says Dr. Goolsby, noting the various invasive species we’re currently battling in Virginia. “When you see how we were able to control giant reed along the Rio Grande, you start to think, ‘How can we control invasive weeds in Virginia?’” Noting the introduction of invasive species which were originally considered ornamental Dr. Goolsby emphasizes the ecological consequences gardening can have--and the opportunity Master Gardeners have to help. “Dr. Goolsby is a world-renowned scientist who is working on an international basis to control problems that apply to Extension Master Gardeners and the public,” says Reilly.

“I hope to give Master Gardeners an idea of the damage that we incur from invasive species and the general way biological control works.” Master Gardeners interested in controlling invasive species, restoring native plants, or tackling the many vitally-important scientific challenges we face won’t want to miss Dr. Goolsby’s keynote address.

Giant reed, Arundo donax, is invasive along the Rio Grande River. Image: Mokkie via Wikipedia Commons.

6 | In Season | Winter 2019

2019 Extension Master Gardener College will be held from September 19-22 in Norfolk, Virginia. For more information on Master Gardener College, please visit our website at college. Registration for Master Gardener College will open in early May; please monitor your email, the biweekly update, and/or our website for more updates. ■

Planting Seeds of Hope Green Spring Master Gardener Kathleen Wellington helped establish a therapeutic gardening program at a local hospital and presented on her efforts at a national conference.

By: Gabrielle Sanderson On October 5, 2018, an Extension Master Gardener from Green Spring Gardens had the opportunity to spread the word about therapeutic gardening by presenting at the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) in Denver, Colorado. Kathleen Wellington was able to incorporate her background of being a licensed counselor and her passion for horticultural therapy into a presentation that demonstrates the Extension Master Gardeners’ work with the Healing Gardens at the Woodburn Crisis Care Center. Not only has Kathleen helped to expand on the integration of therapeutic gardening with the Woodburn staff, but she has facilitated an interest in therapeutic gardening among other Extension Master Gardeners.

To begin, the Woodburn Crisis Care Center is not a hospital but a place for individuals to check into for a two-week period in order to receive help during a crisis. Ruth Janet, a member of the Woodburn Crisis Care Center, states that during their process of developing gardening lesson plans for the staff to use with clients they realized that they were missing the aspect of horticultural therapy. “Thanks to Kathleen and her expertise, we now have a month-to-month written program that incorporates gardening “to do” along with lesson plans on therapy that Woodburn staff can easily initiate.” Kathleen worked hand-in-hand with the counseling staff at the crisis center in order to help open their eyes to the benefits of

In Photo Above: Master Gardeners work in the therapeutic garden. Image courtesy of Pamela Smith. In Season | Winter 2019 | 7

gardening. Pamela Smith, the Community Horticulture Supervisor at Green Spring Gardens, says that “with so many individuals and families now dealing with crisis situations, providing a respite through gardening is a wonderful way to help them find solace and possible hope for the future.” Kathleen’s





receive monetary support from the Green Spring Gardens and the Fairfax extension service for her recent presentation. During the conference she received feedback from various people in the audience that they were interested with the idea of replicating the work that the EMGs did with the crisis care center into their own programs. One lady approached her at the conference explaining that she is “really excited to hear from another person with a vision to merge horticulture therapy with mental health work.” With guidance from Kathleen, several of the Extension Master Gardeners have earned their Health Department volunteer training so that they can work directly with clients, and Smith states that Kathleen is continuing to “introduce them to different forms of therapeutic gardening,” through presentations in Fairfax County. While Kathleen’s presentation has made

A drawn plan for the therapeutic garden. Image courtesy of Pamela Smith. Conference was called “Planting Seeds of Hope: Therapeutic Gardening in a Crisis Stabilization Program,” and she discussed how Extension Master Gardener Volunteers collaborated with clinical staff in implementing and sustaining the therapeutic gardening program in the adult crisis stabilization center. Kathleen has been able to present at the conference a couple times before, but she was excited and honored to

8 | In Season | Winter 2019

Vegetables in the therapeutic garden in June. Image courtesy of Pamela Smith.

a significant impact on other Extension Master Gardeners around the state, the EMGs’ work at the Woodburn Crisis Care Center continues to make a lasting impact on the Fairfax community. “We have already received requests from a senior living facility for a sensory garden for its residents,” states Smith. The 2017 Green Spring Master Gardeners are also doing work for the Wounded Warrior Program, helping to write “The USO Resiliency Garden Guide” for the counselors and volunteers to use when working with military personal who are also in similar crises. “I think it is a great service to the community and certainly the EMGs feel a great sense of purpose and satisfaction from working with these groups,” says Smith. “They have an incredible amount of compassion and generosity of spirit and they are able to see the impact on the clients and counselors.” While therapeutic gardening at the Woodburn Crisis Care Center has had lasting impacts on the patients, the work with the crisis care center has helped the Extension Master

Gardeners to understand how they can use gardening as a tool to help people heal. “I think everyone should know how beneficial gardening is, both emotionally, physically, and socially,” states Kathleen. Not only has therapeutic gardening allowed for there to be seeds of hope planted at the Woodburn Crisis Care center, but therapeutic gardening has allowed people to see that gardening can heal. ■

A Master Gardener in the woodland garden. Image courtesy of Pamela Smith.

In Photo Above: Master Gardeners work in the therapeutic garden. Image courtesy of Pamela Smith. In Season | Winter 2019 | 9


New EMG Website The EMG State Office’s online presence will undergo changes in February, 2019 What is the EMG Website? The EMG State Office maintained an intranetstyle website with resources for current Extension Master Gardeners, coordinators, and Extension agents at: On February 4, 2019, we will transition that site to a new website at: The old website address will automatically redirect to this new site, but you should plan

to update any bookmarks you’ve made for the old website address.

Why update the EMG Website? We hope that this new website will be easier to navigate than the old website, will work better on mobile devices, and will be more flexible to maintain than the old website. The new website includes a variety of resources for current Master Gardeners, including information on Master Gardner College, Master Gardener publications, and the biweekly update.

Check out the new website after February 4 to see the work we’ve done!

Loudoun Project Helps Property Owners Plan Smart Landscapes A self-directed program in Loudoun County helps both rural and suburban residents--and fosters greater collaboration with county government.

By: Devon Johnson Loudoun County Master Gardeners’ My Backyard program offers local property owners the chance for help planning a landscape that will conserve natural resources, save time and money, and reduce runoff to local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. “The self directed program involves 10 basic principles and a number of ‘yard actions’ that homeowners can take to conserve natural resources and make sure we’re preserving our landscape for the future,” says Barb Bailey, a Loudoun County Master Gardener

who helped develop the program. These 10 principles serve as a guide for building a smart landscape. Homeowners can choose to implement just a few actions, or they can choose to pursue certification as a Watershed Partner by undertaking actions related to all 10 principles and completing a My Backyard scorecard. “Some principles, like ‘right plant right place’ actually help save homeowners time and money because they won’t have to replace a tree or shrub that was planted in an

In Photo Above: Community members can learn more about the My Backyard program on the Loudoun EMG website. In Season | Winter 2019 | 11

inappropriate location,” says Bailey. Other principles help property owners take steps to directly reduce stormwater runoff, fertilize lawns responsibly, and recycle yard waste. “The program is self directed, so interested community members can go to our website and select topics that are important to them, like maintaining healthy soil or reducing runoff to see information and steps they can take to improve their landscape,” says Bailey. For additional guidance, homeowners can call in to the Loudoun County Master Gardener help desk or send emails to a special My Backyard help account.

Homeowners interested in achieving “Watershed Partner” status will need to complete tasks equivalent to 36 points on the My Backyard scorecard and submit the card for certification by Loudoun Master Gardeners. In addition to receiving a special certificate, Watershed Partners are also eligible to purchase a yard flag advertising their achievement. Now nearing its one year anniversary, Bailey and a team of Master Gardeners, along with Jim Hilleary, Loudoun ANR agent, developed the program after seeing similar efforts in other states. “We thought it was a great idea and we were able to transform it to focus more on natural resources conservation and incorporate more of an education component for homeowners,” says Bailey. “So far people have responded to the program in a very positive way,” says Hilleary. “The program’s focus on water quality helps people feel a sense of ownership and being a stakeholder in the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.”

Meeting Loudoun’s Unique Needs The My Backyard program was designed with Loudoun County’s unique needs and very diverse population in mind.

Program participants who achieve Watershed Partner certification are elegible to buy this yard sign to display their achievement. Image courtesy of Barb Bailey.

12 | In Season | Winter 2019

“In Loudoun, we have two categorically different population demographics: the residents who live in rural, Western Loudoun and the residents who live in densely populated Eastern Loudoun,” says Hilleary. “We’re trying to meet the learning needs of all the residents and figure out issues common to farmers in the western half of the county and homeowners in the eastern

part. The My Backyard program allows us to develop programming relevant to both communities.”

“The program’s focus on water quality helps people feel a sense of ownership and being a stakeholder in the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.” “For our contemporaries in gateway counties, this is a great program for reaching dual audiences with the same inputs,” says Hilleary. “The same concepts that apply for homeowners fertilizing lawns work for farmers practicing good pasture management.” Bailey adds that knowing your audience is very important when developing this type of program. “You need to understand what residents want and need. [A program like this] needs to meet what people are asking for,” she says. Elements like the Watershed Partner yard

flag were designed to appeal to Loudoun residents. In addition to catering to Loudoun’s unique audiences, the My Backyard program is also consistent with the county government’s goal of improving water quality. “We’re striving to make our program relevant and nest both with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the vision and values communicated by our county board of supervisors,” says Hilleary. “Our board of supervisors values natural resources conservation and water quality. The My Backyard program allows us to support county residents, our local government, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.” By listening to the local audience and the needs of Loudoun county government, the My Backyard program fills a valuable niche as it helps property owners learn to conserve natural resources and improve water quality for the future. ■

Learn more about the My Backyard program on the Loudoun EMG website!

In Season | Winter 2019 | 13

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Don’t forget to add mulch in these cold months! Not only does mulch help keep root temperatures stable, but it can also help to make your yard more attractive! pdf Before a big freeze hits, make sure to water your trees and shrubs! Build a compost bin! While they’re not necessary for composting, they can add form to the processing of plant material. Local garden centers might even have extra pallets to help build the structure. Do you have any ideas for your spring garden? Seed catalogs are available yearround, so winter is a great time to plan! Be wary of rapid temperature changes, they can cause tree bark to split. Wrapping trunks with burlap strips is one way to help prevent splitting. Prevent freezing in your cold frame by throwing burlap sacks filled with leaves over the sash on the frame at night to protect against freezing, or stack bales of straw or hay against the frame. pdf.pdf Do you have seeds left over from last year? Test them before re-ordering new ones for Spring! pdf.pdf Protect your flowerpots! Put them in a shelter, that way they are ready to use for spring. pdf.pdf

such as increased sedimentation and water pollution right in our own neighborhoods. Today we’re going to talk about stormwater and how gardening can play an important role in helping to support water quality.

What is stormwater?

When it Rains, it Pours An Introduction to Stormwater Management By: Maeghan Klinker The autumn weather can be unpredictable. When storms come to visit, they often lead to messy runoff that carries away your garden’s dirt and form large puddles in the most inconvenient places. But where does all that water go once the storm passes? This water, known as stormwater, often runs into storm drains that lead directly into the nearest streams with little to no filtration. Along the way, it picks up chemicals and oils from the street, plastic and other litter, and all the dirt that was washed from the garden along with whatever fertilizers and chemicals it contains. These pollutants end up in the local waterways, contributing to issues

According to the EPA, stormwater is runoff generated from rain or snowmelt that flows over land or impervious surfaces (such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops) and does not soak into the ground. As water travels over these surfaces, it picks up pollutants such as trash, chemicals, oils, and sediment that then make their way into waterways, often causing harm to the larger bodies of water into which they flow. As the global population continues to grow, development and urbanization increase the amount of impervious surfaces, contributing to an increased volume and rate of run off. These changes in hydrology result in habitat modification and loss, increased risk of flooding, decreased aquatic biological diversity, and increased sedimentation and erosion. So how can Extension Master Gardeners make a positive impact on stormwater? With the help of some Master Naturalists, we’re going to explore the idea of buffer landscaping.

What is buffer landscaping? Buffer landscaping is the maintenance of vegetation along a waterfront. These plants create a buffer which acts as a filter for stormwater and other runoff, catching sediment, debris, and pollutants before they can enter the waterway. Buffer landscaping

In Season | Winter 2019 | 15

also helps prevent bank erosion because the roots of the plants hold the soil and prevent it from being washed away. This increases water clarity and protects aquatic and terrestrial habitats by preventing sediment from being swept into the waterway. Having plants near the water also provides shade, helping keep water temperatures cooler and improving habitat for fish, amphibians, and other aquatic life.

Rain gardens and buffer landscaping provide important ecological services to the landscape. You don’t have to live alongside a waterfront to plant a garden that performs valuable water filtration services. Consider creating a rain garden to help prevent stormwater runoff in your own neighborhood. Rain gardens contain plants that can survive soil soaked in water from rainstorms, although they are not meant to remain in standing water indefinitely. These gardens collect and slow stormwater runoff, allowing it to filter through the soil and preventing it from running straight into storm drains, carrying sediment and pollutants with it. Rain gardens and buffer landscaping provide important ecological services to the landscape. In addition to reducing flooding and increasing filtration, these gardens provide other benefits such as: • Protecting the value of your property • Retaining soil • Requiring less maintenance • Providing natural habitat for wildlife When choosing plants for your rain garden or

16 | In Season | Winter 2019

buffer landscaping, there are a few important characteristics to keep in mind. Recommended plant characteristics: • Native • Deep roots • Pollinator friendly • Prefer wet soil Native plants are best adapted for local climate conditions and provide important habitat cover for native wildlife. As an added bonus, choose plants that are pollinator friendly to encourage pollinators to visit your garden. Deep roots ensure that your plants won’t be washed away during heavy rainfall and plants that prefer wet soil are sure to thrive in areas often inundated with water. For a list of recommended plant species for riparian buffers and other landscaping in Bedford, Franklin, Pittsylvania, and Roanoke counties, visit the Smith Mountain Lake Association’s Buffer Landscaping Web Page here. For a comprehensive guide to installing a rain garden, visit the Department of Forestry’s Rain Garden Technical guide here.

Interested in learning more stormwater management?


Check out these additional resources from Virginia Cooperative Extension: Stormwater Management for Homeowners: Rooftop Redirection Stormwater Management for Homeowners: Rain Gardens ■

Extension Master Gardeners at the 2018 State Fair of Virginia By: Gabrielle Sanderson Last fall, people from around Virginia flocked to the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia to attend the 2018 State Fair. Once there they were met with carnival rides, funnel cakes, and multiple educational exhibits that offered learning opportunities for all ages; these informative attractions are why people call the State Fair “Virginia’s Largest Classroom.” Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOLs) were able to come to life this year for 14,000 youth at the State Fair, and Virginia Cooperative Extension Master

Gardeners (EMGs) were able to take part in the process. Hanover County Extension Master Gardeners and other EMG units undertook the booth for the State Fair Education Expo this year, and the theme was Water Conservation and methods to protect water quality. There were multiple educational demonstrations that included a water conservation house, types of composting, firewise landscaping, an edible rainbow, and a Virginia Conservation

In Photo Above: Extension Master Gardeners staff their educational booth at the State Fair of Virginia. Image courtesy of Christy Brennan. In Season | Winter 2019 | 17

Assistance Program (VCAP) Model House. The Virginia Conservation Assistance Program exhibit was called “Soak It UP” and it allowed EMG’s to demonstrate how homeowners can work with the VCAP to assist in the restoration and cleaning of waterways. They discussed numerous Best Management Practices that can be used to help the stormwater soak into the ground, such as: rain gardens, bio-retention basins, conservation landscaping, and turf to native plants. The volunteers mentioned the benefits of permeable pavement to help stormwater soak into the ground, and how homeowners can participate in rainwater harvesting with dry wells and cisterns. Ironically, the most popular topic was the rain fall levels in Virginia and how hard it was to have a successful vegetable garden. Angelette Pryor, Hanover EMG volunteer coordinator, stated that, “Extension Master Gardeners are viewed as very helpful people with vast resources.” The EMGs were sought out by the State Fair attendees to answer many questions about their lawns, wellwater testing, how to conduct a soil test, and specifically about their vegetables and how to grow a Hanover tomato. According to Christy Brennan, Hanover Extension Master Gardener volunteer, “The Virginia Master Gardener Association (VMGA) supplies the funding for the Extension Master Gardener Booth at the State Fair and Extension Master Gardeners supply the muscle and demonstrations used for education purposes during the Fair.” The 4,000 contacts reached were able to receive a VCE publication list and Healthy Virginia Lawns notepads, grass cutting height rulers, and rain gauges. Also, lesson plans were distributed to the school teachers that attended with the visit students; they got to

18 | In Season | Winter 2019

take home night pollinator posters from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), pollinator worksheets, and a link to the USDA for information on pollinators and native plants information. The Extension Master Gardeners that volunteered mention that all of the kids, parents, and teachers really appreciate the resources that were provided this year.

The EMGs were sought out by the State Fair attendees to answer many questions about their lawns, well-water testing, how to conduct a soil test, and [...] how to grow a Hanover tomato. Whether it was a hands-on demonstration about stormwater runoff, handing out pollinator worksheets, or describing how to grow a tomato, the Extension Master Gardeners were involved with the public every step of the way. “Extension Master Gardeners set up, staff the EMG booth during all 10 days of the Fair, and take down the booth,” states Brennan. “Extension Master Gardeners are the faces of Virginia Cooperative Extension displaying the VCE logo, answering questions with the most current scientific information, and distributing VCE approved information and freebies donated by the VCE State Master Gardener Coordinator’s Office.” Not only were the EMG volunteers able to spread the word and promote Extension, but they were able to share the knowledge that they have gained with people attending the State Fair of Virginia. ■

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.� - Gertrude Jekyll

Profile for VCEMasterGardener

In Season - Winter 2019