Some of us soon might be gazing wistfully at snow out our windows, but the truth is spring is not far away. What better way is there to beat the winter doldrums than to gear up for spring planting?
To help get you started, we’ve compiled the following list of upcoming plant sales and giveaways. All events are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and many are put on by nonprofits, Master Gardeners or local soil and water conservation districts.
Can’t make it to one of these events? Browse the list of Plant More Plants retail partners. Most will be opening soon to fulfill all your spring planting needs.
Remember: More Plants. Less Runoff. Healthier Bay.
Going on now
The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for its annual seedling sale through April 22 or until supplies run out. Shrub and small tree packages ($15.95) and tree packages ($10.95) are available. Visit the district’s website to see which species are offered.
Riparian landowners in Chesterfield County, Va., can make appointments to pick up free native tree seedlings March 22, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., or March 23, 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The goal is to improve riparian buffers throughout the county and filter stormwater runoff with native trees. The county’s environmental engineering department and the James River Soil and Water Conservation District are sponsors of the giveaway. To schedule an appointment, contact Lorne Field at fieldl[at]chesterfield.gov or 804-748-1920.
The U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave., Washington, will host a native-plant sale 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., in conjunction with the 27th Annual Lahr Native Plant Symposium.
Henrico County, Va., residents can snag bareroot tree seedlings March 28, 2:30 until 6:30 p.m., at Dorey Park, or March 29, 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., at Hermitage High School. This giveaway is sponsored by the Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District. Seedlings were provided by the Virginia Department of Forestry.
Herring Run Nursery at 6131 Hillen Road, Baltimore, Md., resumes retail sales 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. The nursery offers hundreds of species of native trees, shrubs and perennials. Check their website for detailed hours of operation.
Trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers will be available for purchase 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., at the Arbor Day Trees and Native Plant Sale, sponsored by the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at James Madison University, 780 University Blvd., Harrisonburg, Va.
Hanover Master Gardeners will hold their spring plant sale 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the Hanover County Social Services building, 12304 Washington Hwy., Ashland, Va.
The Virginia Living Museum, 542 Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, hosts its spring native-plant sale April 20, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and April 21, noon until 3 p.m. Admission to the sale is free.
The ParkFairfax Native Plant Sale is scheduled 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., at 3601 Valley Drive, Alexandria, Va. The sale is open to the public, and admission is free.
In case you missed the Virginia Living Museum's native-plant sale the previous weekend, swing by April 27, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., or April 28, noon until 3 p.m. Admission to the sale is free.
The Jefferson Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society hosts its plant sale 1 until 3 p.m., at the Ivy Creek Natural Area barn, 1780 Earleysville Road, Charlottesville, Va.
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Henrico County, Va., hosts its three-day spring plant sale. A wide selection of plants will be available from numerous small and local vendors. See the website for sale hours. Admission to the sale is free.
The Prince William Wildflower Society, a chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, hosts its native-plant sale 9 a.m. until noon at Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church, 8712 Plantation Lane, Manassas, Va.
The Virginia Beach Master Gardeners’ spring plant sale is scheduled 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market at the corner of Dam Neck and Princess Anne roads.
The Master Gardeners of Prince William will sell plants 9 a.m. until noon at The Teaching Garden, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, Va. While you’re there, find out about the unique learning opportunities available at the garden.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. Please add any events we left off in the comments section below. Happy planting!Julie Buchanan is a public relations specialist for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. She lives in Richmond, Va., where she is just beginning to delve into the world of gardening.
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I cannot live without coffee and chocolate. Therefore, I cannot live without pollinators.
Chelone, (it rhymes with phony and baloney) is a native member of the figwort family. It is more commonly known as turtlehead. It's not hard to figure out how it got its common name; those blooms shaped like turtleheads are so adorable that even someone who is not a fan of turtles can’t resist them. They remind me of kids running around in the rain with their tongues sticking out to catch the droplets. Chelone was a nymph in Greek mythology that offended the gods by not attending the wedding of Zeus to Hera. To punish her, they turned her into a turtle.
I started out having a lot of trouble growing this plant. I wasn't giving it nearly enough water. It is happy down by the waterfront where its feet stay wet most of the time. In my yard it spends most of its time in the shade with 2-3 hours of sun in the afternoon. It will tolerate sun if grown in consistent wetness. I need to warn you — native caterpillars love this plant so its leaves are very often munched on. This plant is a host plant of the endangered Baltimore Butterfly. Hummingbirds visit this plant as well but bumblebees are what I usually see. It is fun watching the bumblebees climb into the “turtle's head” and then back out hiney first just to hit the next bloom and do it again.
Don't dig this up if you find it in the wild. (Go to www.vnps.org for a list of nurseries that sell only nursery-propagated plants.) It is easy to find the pink version “Hot Lips” at local nurseries. I had a hard time finding the white variety but a nursery in my area (shameless commercial here — English Country Gardens) was able to locate some for me.
Growing from 1-3 feet, deer generally don't bother this plant. The blooms come in pink, rose, white and purplish depending on the variety. One of this plant’s best features is the bloom time from late summer well into the fall. If turtlehead does not get enough water or if it is planted where air cannot circulate, mildew might become a problem. If planted in too much shade this plant will become leggy and require staking. If you absolutely want to plant it in an area that is too shady, minimize the legginess by cutting the plant back by one-third to half in late spring. Moving the plant to a place that better suits its needs (right plant, right place!) will rectify these problems. Divide this plant in the spring to share it with friends. If you have a damp area in your yard, give this wonderful native a shot. You won't be disappointed!
Playing with Plants: Pinch the flowers like you would with snapdragons to make them “talk.” Plus, look inside turtlehead's mouth to find fangs!
Betty Truax is a member of the Virginia Native Plant Society. She's mother to four grown children, daughter to a great lady who inspired her love of flora and wife to a wonderful man who's always willing to help dig holes for plants. Betty lives in a lawn-free home near Charlottesville, Va., and is in the process of installing woodland gardens on the property.
When I was a kid, I proclaimed to be all about the Earth. It was the early 90s. Recycling, spotted owls and a certain superhero named Captain Planet were among my chief obsessions. Fully aware of this, my parents — bless their hearts — chauffeured me to all variety of environment-themed activities. There were tree plantings and litter cleanups and ecology club meetings and, of course, Earth Day celebrations.
As an eco-friendly kid, the garden center should have been my Shangri-la. I should’ve reveled in the opportunity each spring to browse balmy greenhouses and help my mom choose the perfect plants to fight those evils of stormwater runoff and air pollution. Alas, I did not revel in these trips. To be honest, garden centers bored the heck out of 10-year-old me.
Despite my love of nature, I simply wasn’t making the connection between plants and a healthy environment. I didn’t realize the special ability plants have to clean our waterways, even though my family lived just a few hundred yards from a stream. The concept of native plants for native wildlife never crossed my mind.
In fairness to 10-year-old me, these ideas were not in the conscience of most people at the time. I feel they’re only now starting to percolate into mainstream thinking.
Recycling and litter cleanups (and, I’ll be honest — Captain Planet) remain passions for 30-year-old me. But I’ve happily added plants to the list. Working on the Plant More Plants campaign this past year has fostered an appreciation for plants and gardening I didn’t have before. I enjoy visiting garden centers now. I'm jealous of other people's beautiful yards. Ten-year-old me would be so surprised.
In honor of Earth Day, April 22, add your name to the Plant More Plants pledge. Plant more trees, shrubs and hardy perennials. Don’t fertilize the lawn. Enjoy your yard — your own small piece of nature. Be truly all about the Earth.
Julie Buchanan is a public relations specialist for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. She lives in Richmond, Va., where she is just beginning to delve into the world of gardening.
The Teaching Garden at the Benedictine Monastery in Bristow, Va., is maintained by Master Gardeners of Prince William County. In this garden, Master Gardeners grow fresh produce for the Plant a Row for the Hungry project. It is also where they teach others how to grow vegetables, practice low-maintenance gardening techniques and demonstrate plants that grow well locally.
I’m proud to announce that the Teaching Garden is one of 15 finalists selected nationwide for the DeLoach Community Garden Award. The top five gardens that receive the most votes will be awarded $4,000 each. Winners will be announced in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Organic Gardening Magazine.
If the Teaching Garden is a winner, funds will be used to install an educational kiosk and fencing to keep deer out. Volunteers also hope to enhance the garden's rain barrel system and parking area.
You can go to www.deloachcommunitygardens.com to cast a vote for the Teaching Garden. Voting ends Aug. 6, 2012. Your support is very much appreciated!
About the Teaching Garden
From March through September, you will find Master Gardeners at work in the Teaching Garden. During the growing season, classes are offered the first Saturday of each month. Topics range from turf, vegetables and ornamentals, to how to deal with pests and diseases using minimal pesticides. In addition, children’s programs encourage youths to take an early interest in nature. These programs are free, but registration is recommended.
The Teaching Garden is located at 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow. Call 703-792-7747 for information about programs or to schedule a visit with a Master Gardener.Betty Truax is a member of the Virginia Native Plant Society. She's mother to four grown children, daughter to a great lady who inspired her love of flora and wife to a wonderful man who's always willing to help dig holes for plants. Betty lives in a lawn-free home near Charlottesville, Va., and is in the process of installing woodland gardens on the property.