Tag Archives: Master Gardeners

Got Plants? Get Answers.

Green Spring GardensSee spot. See spot grow. See spot grow on plant. See plant wither.

If you have a yard or if you have plants, you probably have problems and questions. There’s an endless variety of questions for an endless variety of plants, including “will it grow in my yard”, and the ubiquitous “what’s that”.

When you need or want information, the first two questions are always, “Who do I ask” and “What do I ask.” At Green Spring Gardens, the Who is our Master Gardeners and our staff.

Every day at the park, a staff person is assigned as Gardener on Duty. You can bring a photo or plant sample in a plastic bag to the Horticulture Center’s front desk. If the Gardener is out and about and not able to come to the front desk, our front desk staff can take notes for the Gardener, who will get back in touch with you.

Every Saturday from 12:30-3:30 p.m. through September, Green Spring Master Gardeners are at the tent you’ll see in front of the park’s Horticulture Center. The Master Gardeners are specially trained to help answer your questions. Bring your questions, photos or plant samples and sit down for a moment to talk.

Our Master Gardeners also help staff the Horticulture Helpline at the Virginia Cooperative Extension office. Phone 703-324-8556 to leave a detailed message for someone to return your call. The Master Gardeners also staff information booths at the county farmers markets.

The “what do I ask” query might better be phrased as “how do I ask.” Here are some tips for bringing real or photographic samples to Green Spring. If you need plant identification help, try to get a plant sample that includes the flowers and a few leaves still on the stem. If you take a photo, try to capture both flowers and leaves. If you can show the whole plant, that can be helpful, too.

If you need help diagnosing a disease or insect problem, try to get a sample from both a healthy and an affected plant or plant part. Place any diseased plant parts or insects in a separate, sealed plastic bag so that you don’t inadvertently spread pests around. Plant problems that we cannot identify, we may be able to send to Adria Bordas, our Virginia Cooperative Extension agent. Keep samples fresh by storing them refrigerated with a damp paper towel in the bag until you can bring them to Green Spring within a day or two.

Sometimes, heading over to Green Spring Gardens does not work for you. Here’s another option. You’re always welcome to send me an email with your question and, if you wish, a photo. If I can’t answer your question, there are several gardeners on staff who can help.

Whether you ask a staff member or a Master Gardener volunteer, we love plant question challenges. Bring your samples and come talk to us!

Author Mary Olien is the Site Manager at Green Spring Gardens. Green Spring Gardens is located at 4603 Green Spring Road in Alexandria, Va. The park’s phone number is 703-642-5173.

Shop for unique plants at Spring Garden Day on Saturday, May 17, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Great Parks, Great Food

Locally produced food and farmers markets are like peanut butter and jelly. A perfect pairing.

Farm-fresh produce.

Fill your reusable shopping bag this summer with local goods from any of 11 Fairfax County Park Authority farmers markets throughout the county. You’ll find local fruits, vegetables, flowers, baked goods, eggs, honey, cider and cheeses, and all products come from vendors located within 125 miles of Fairfax County.

When you buy local produce, you support sustainable agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and you bring home the freshest foods you can get outside of your own backyard.

Local parks, local food

Colvin Run Mill is part of the local food chain. The historic mill grinds white and yellow corn meal and whole wheat flour that is available in the historic site’s general store, at Frying Pan Farm Park and at the Maple Avenue Market in Vienna.

Get a taste of what professionals can do with local grain. Three area restaurants use Colvin Run’s grain – the Maple Avenue Restaurant in Vienna, the Cock and Bowl in Occoquan, and elements at the Hyatt Dulles Hotel near Dulles Airport.

Executive Chef Matthew Warschaw of elements says using local food is “part of the restaurant philosophy.” His menu also includes cured salami, ham, turkey, ice cream and peanuts from local sources.

“We have such great products here in Virginia,” Warschaw said, adding that the benefit of using local produce in his restaurant is “exposure for the guests.” He was introduced to Colvin Run Mill’s product last year while attending the 4-H Fair at Frying Pan Farm Park, and since then he’s used the mill’s grain regularly on his menu, in his buffet and for special occasions. He recently hosted a themed buffet that featured tastings of Colvin Run Mill foods that included the showcasing of paraphernalia from the mill. And he’s had guests ask about the mill’s products.

Fresh eggs are available at Frying Pan Farm Park.

When you visit the markets, you’ll find that Colvin Run Mill isn’t the only Park Authority site that produces local food. Eggs from Frying Pan Farm Park are available and, of course, the animals on the farm take part in their own local food program by eating the farm’s corn and hay.

So follow the professional’s advice, and eat local this summer. You’ll find some unexpected treats at the many enticing, local markets across the county in Annandale, Burke, Herndon, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Mount Vernon, at Oak Marr and Wakefield Parks, and at Frying Pan Farm Park. Addresses and schedules for each site are on the Park Authority website. In addition to the local produce, Fairfax County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners offer plant clinics at some markets to help you with lawn and gardening issues.

Great food, support for local producers, sustainable agriculture, and a healthy Chesapeake Bay watershed. They’re all good reasons to visit a local farmers market this summer.

Written by Dave Ochs, stewardship communications manager and ResOURces editor