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Planning Those All-Important “Hardscapes”

March 4, 2014 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Planning Those All-Important “Hardscapes”

Last month we focused on the basics of hardscape planning – looking at the stone walls, woodwork, patios, arbors, decks, water features, etc. of your businesses or home’s yard and landscape.

The key priorities we discussed included: 1) deciding on what outcome and functions you wanted – how would the area or areas be used? … just for show or are you wanting a vegetable or flower cutting garden?; 2) Do you have your drainage issue sorted out?; 3) How do you want the main areas and features in your hardscapes to relate to each other? Are you creating a path to move through or a simple place to sit and enjoy the scenery?; And, finally, 4) what’s your style? Sleek and modern, homey country or something in between the two? … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Snowy Owl – Interrupted Beauty, Flashing White

February 6, 2014 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Snowy Owl – Interrupted Beauty, Flashing White

Imagine winding your way to Dulles Airport on one of our recent cold January days. You can’t wait to get on the plane and wake up in sunny Florida the next day. Palm trees, warm breezes, ahhhh. But, as you drop off the last highway ramp and into the parking lot you notice a large snowy-white bird perching on an airport fence. It’s big. And, “Wow,” you think, “What the heck is that?”

Once in the airport, sipping your coffee and waiting to board your flight you see the news report about a snowy owl that was sighted in Washington, D.C. near a Washington Post building in January, and then taken to a local wildlife hospital after being hit by a bus. The bird appears to be OK, and veterinarians hope to release it, soon. Wow, you say to yourself, I just saw one of those birds. Wow. … Continue Reading

Planning Those All-Important “Hardscapes”

February 5, 2014 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Planning Those All-Important “Hardscapes”

Patio entertaining, or lazing by the pool seems months and months off – especially when the wind chill is hovering at about zero, as it has been for weeks.

But despite our wintery mindsets, this is a good time of year to put together your spring and summer landscape wish lists. If you are planning to make big or even more modest changes to your garden, outdoor areas or yard, one of the most important considerations is how your hardscape will be put together and function.

Hardscapes are described as the inanimate part of landscaping – the stone walls, woodwork, patios, arbors, decks, water features, etc. The softscapes, of course, are your plants and trees. … Continue Reading

White House Turkeys Make Their Debut at Morven Park Open House

January 19, 2014 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on White House Turkeys Make Their Debut at Morven Park Open House

The silver collection will sparkle and the windows will gleam when Morven Park re-opens its museums following a one-month break for deep cleaning. But new additions to the Park’s treasures just might out-shine all the rest, as the pardoned White House turkeys make their public debut.

Popcorn (who participated in the President’s pardoning ceremony) and Caramel (the “alternate”) will be strutting their stuff in front of the Davis Mansion during the weekend of February 1-2, and the public is invited not only to meet these famous turkeys but to visit the Mansion and Winmill Carriage Museum at no charge during this special open house. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Killdeer: Protective and Assertive Winter Beauty

January 8, 2014 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Killdeer: Protective and Assertive Winter Beauty

Nature is beautiful, inspiring and accessible no matter the season. Still, it was a bit of a challenge to decide what part of wild Loudoun to feature in this January 2014 edition of the Blue Ridge Leader.

My question was answered at Franklin Park a few weeks ago. The park is one of my dog’s favorite haunts, with lots of varied natural areas and habitats, lots of places to sniff and lots of trails to follow. As we were enjoying a sunny but cold afternoon there just before Christmas, both she and I stopped and looked up at the sky, reacting to the sharp sound of a small, fast-moving bird, swooping, calling and circling as it finally landed in a wet, snowy area on the edge of a parking lot near a large pond.

The park has quite a bit of what would formerly have been wetland and spring-type areas, and I’ve always been on alert as to what kind of wildlife that might attract, including birds you would find around water. … Continue Reading

Gardening Class Starting in February

December 28, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Gardening Class Starting in February

Expand your gardening toolbox by covering gardening, pruning, and landscape basics with four weeks of solid, no nonsense garden information and activities, then go on to design a real garden. Classes will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, from February 5 to March 26 in the Tasting Room at the Village Winery & Vineyard on Brown’s Lane in Waterford. The first class on basics runs from February 5 to Feb. 26. Fee is $96. Registration is required. The fee for all 8 classes is $180. Class size is limited. The class is taught by Donna Williamson. For more information, go to the dwfinegardening.com and click on classes, call (540) 877-2002, or e-mail donnawilliamson2002@earthlink.net.

These classes will help you sort through mountains of bewildering and conflicting gardening and plant information to understand the approaches and tasks that really work in Virginia. You can make a big difference in your landscape and environment, saving bees, butterflies and birds in the process. Gardening with deer and the latest in vegetable gardening will be included. Ornamental and native plants can coexist beautifully in your landscape for more interest.

Wild Loudoun – Reindeer. Here. But Neither By Day Nor By Night. By Dreams.

December 3, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun – Reindeer. Here. But Neither By Day Nor By Night. By Dreams.

On one of those quiet cold Loudoun nights to come – a night when the winter storm has blown through and you have stepped out for a few minutes to sweep the snow off the front steps before going to bed – you might have imagined a deer-like creature looking at you through the dark.

The softly glowing eyes – a pale blue – are there for a moment and then they are gone. So, you set your broom aside, take a last look into the dark and head inside and up the stairs to bed. Climbing under the covers you bury your face into the pillow … still seeing those softly glowing eyes. And, while you sleep soundly, you wake in the morning wondering why all of the more wild lore associated with Christmas – including flying reindeer – are dancing in your head. … Continue Reading

The White-Footed Mouse: Beauty in Miniature

November 6, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on The White-Footed Mouse: Beauty in Miniature

I can’t imagine that the soft drumming sound I might have heard coming from a woodpile, or the faint buzz I’ve heard in grassy areas could have been coming from the common, white-footed mouse … but I like to think it might have.

All wild animals have what we’d consider to be mysterious behaviors, and many of those behaviors help them survive. The white-footed mouse – common to nearly every county in Virginia, including Loudoun – drums its feet rapidly when alarmed, and replicates this behavior on hollow reeds, creating a sort of buzz. The normal drumming biologists know indicates that the mouse is afraid of something. The reed drumming is something else – no one really knows why mice do it. … Continue Reading

1,798 and Counting

October 6, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on 1,798 and Counting
monarch released 9_25_13

Earlier this year the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC) launched a 2013 campaign to “raise and release” monarch butterflies.

Due a precipitous loss of habitat, monarch populations have plummeted. Female monarchs lay their eggs on wild milkweed and milkweed only, and both modern day farming practices and over-use of herbicides is wiping out this essential flowering plant.

As part of its lifecycle the butterfly participates in one of the most extraordinary migrations on the face of the earth, with the last generation of the season flying sometimes thousands of miles to warm overwintering spots, including select-forested areas in Mexico.

The purpose of the LWC’s campaign is to “fill the gaps” in the monarch’s lifecycle, increasing the chances that individual monarch eggs and caterpillars make it to adulthood, complete their migration, and start the springtime process that replenishes the species.

At the time of this printing the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its volunteers had raised and released 1,798 monarchs, nearly 90 percent of their 2013 goal of 2,013.

Wild Loudoun: Trumpet Vine – Zesty, Assertive Beauty


It can cause a rash. Plant or cultivate it in the wrong place and it can take down your house. It tends to crowd out other plants. And, its nectar is a closely guarded secret – not many animals and insects can reach far enough inside to take advantage of it.

So why do I love the North American native known as trumpet vine?

Well, both the foliage and the flowers are stunning in their color – a deep, emerald green and a hot and zesty orange. It has a strong constitution. Older vines develop thick, woody trunks that can grow up to seven inches thick and thirty feet high. It has a sort of prehistoric look, with large, curved, tubular flowers, spiky leaves, and oversized pods that use the wind to disperse hundreds of brown papery seeds. And, it greatly benefits both bees and hummingbirds, two living things that could really use our help right now. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Harvest Moon

September 4, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Harvest Moon

By Andrea Gaines

We’ve all heard the term “harvest moon.” But, what exactly is a harvest moon, when does it occur and what are the wild residents of Loudoun County doing during this time?

A harvest moon starts with what’s known as an “equinox.” Derived from the Latin term ?aeguus, meaning equal, an equinox marks two times during the year when night and day are approximately equal in length. A vernal equinox occurs in the spring and an autumn equinox in the fall, marking the beginning of that season in the northern hemisphere.

A harvest moon occurs when there is a full moon on the same day as the autumn equinox. The 2013 harvest moon for the northern hemisphere comes on the night of September 18-19. … Continue Reading

Ayrshire Farm Is the First Farm to Gain Predator Friendly® Certification

August 30, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Ayrshire Farm Is the First Farm to Gain Predator Friendly® Certification

Ayrshire Farm and The Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network have announced that Ayrshire Farm is the first farm in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be certified as Predator Friendly®. Predator Friendly® recognizes best practices for wildlife stewardship on farm and ranch lands.

Ayrshire Farm, a recognized leader in the world of sustainable agriculture and one of the first farms in Virginia to achieve certified organic and Certified Humane® status, has recently gained Predator Friendly® certification under an independent audit system through a unique partnership with Animal Welfare Approved and its audit team. Ayrshire’s Predator Friendly® certified beef, rose veal, pork, chicken, eggs, and honey are available online (www.ayrshirefarm.com ) and from the Home Farm Store in Middleburg. Many of these products can also be found on the menu at Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville, Va. as well as restaurants throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. … Continue Reading

Wild Loudoun: Luna Moth – Magical, Lime-Green Marvel

August 7, 2013 Farm and garden, Lifestyle Comments Off on Wild Loudoun: Luna Moth – Magical, Lime-Green Marvel
File:Actias luna in Florida.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encycloped

I’ve seen a luna moth “in the flesh” several times, one time in the most unusual of places.

The first time I saw one I was driving down a quiet dirt road at night when a large, cool green-winged thing landed on the hood of my car.

I had a passenger with me and I must have scared her as I slammed on my breaks, jumped out of the car and exclaimed, “It’s a luna moth! It’s a luna moth! I can’t believe it! I have never seen one before!”

Unlike most moths – which often flutter furiously when encountered – the luna moth paused where it had landed and then ever so slowly floated away into the dark woods on the side of the road.

The next encounter was the most unusual one. Coming out of a Purcellville convenience store late one afternoon I noticed a luna moth resting on the side of a brick wall. I tried to interest another passerby in my sighting, and they actually seemed pretty surprised, if only for a moment. … Continue Reading









A Look Into What Is Learned in High School English

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde English is the arguably the most important subject for a student in high school to learn. The most successful people in the world have one thing in common — being able to communicate effectively. This is …

Remembering Nancy Reagan


By Samuel Moore-Sobel The passing of Nancy Reagan, a former First Lady who completely transformed the role and helped catapult her husband to greatness, marked the end of an era. Her death also happened to coincide with a turning point …

How To “File and Suspend” Before It Is Too Late


With the recent changes to Social Security rules, filing and suspending will soon be phased out, but there’s still time to take advantage of the strategy. Here’s a quick guide to maneuvering this rule while it still lasts, but as …

Concerned Parent


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, We are concerned about some habits our nine year old son demonstrates and would love some advice from you.  We are unsure whether it’s anxiety, nervousness, or just nervous/an excess of energy.  A few …

Temple Hall Farm


I only met the late AV (Val) Symington once; it was a Sunday evening in my first year or two at Wage Radio (this would be the late ‘90’s) and I was putting things in order for the next morning’s …

Am I an Enabler?


Dr. Mike, My husband thinks that I’m harming our son for life because of the way I parent. Our son is 12 years old and he was diagnosed with ADHD in the 1st grade. My husband calls me “the enabler” …


Grief and Greed


By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …


Oh No, It’s the Christians!


By Nicholas Reid In the hours and days following every massacre perpetrated by radical Muslims, there is one unifying theme across most news coverage of the massacre, wherever it may …

Dear Editor

Campaign of Untruths


Elected officials have done some pretty despicable things while serving in office. They range from bribery, beating a spouse, cheating on a spouse, obstruction of justice, and various forms of …

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville


Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input …

Student News

Four Scouts Achieve Eagle Scout Rank

3 Feb 2016


Joel Gicker, Kyle Siecker, Sam Soltis and David Watson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at Blue Ridge Bible Church in Purcellville on January 9. The four Eagles are members of Troop 711 of …

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8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015


Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015


Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

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April 2016

Classical Avant Garde


Classical Avant Garde


Classical Avant Garde


Classical Avant Garde


Last Ham Comedy Improv: April FOOLS SHOW


West Loudoun County Methodist Stop Hunger Now

Writer's Project Runway

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event


Praise Concert

4 5 6 7 8 9

My Child's Closet Consignment Sale

Cherry Blossom Celebration

A Springtime Serenade Concert

11 12 13 14 15

Woodgrove HS presents the musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"


Woodgrove HS presents the musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

Woodgrove HS presents the musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

18 19 20 21 22

April Fourth Friday

Woodgrove HS presents the musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Franklin Park Arts Center


Virginia Touch-A-Truck

Breaux Vineyards Wild Game Winemaker's Dinner

Woodgrove HS presents the musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Franklin Park Arts Center


CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Franklin Park Arts Center

25 26 27

Hamilton Town Hall

28 29

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Franklin Park Arts Center


Lobster Day with Chef Seb at North Gate Vineyard

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Franklin Park Arts Center


Sea & Sky – an exhibit by copper artist Anne Jordan and mixed media artist Karen Watson

Spring Wine Glass Painting with Penny

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5K and 10K “Ringing in Hope” Race Slated for Memorial Day

27 Apr 2016


The third annual “Ringing in Hope” 5K and 10K race will be held on Memorial Day (Monday, May 30) at One Loudoun. A 1K fun run/walk will also be held. The 5K begins at 8:00 a.m., the 10K at 8:10 a.m. and the 1K at 9:30 a.m. Proceeds will benefit Boulder Crest Retreat, a retreat for America’s seriously wounded warriors …

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Bluegrass Performers Reno and Harrell To Appear at Lucketts on April 23

15 Apr 2016

music note

The Lucketts Bluegrass Concert Series continues its 42nd season of weekly concerts at the Lucketts Community Center on Saturday, April 23 at 7:00 p.m. with a show featuring Reno and Harrell. Tickets are $15 at the door, and the doors open at 6:00 p.m. Hot dogs, barbecue sandwiches, snacks and drinks will be available at the kitchen.

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April in the Garden: Be a Freestyle Beekeeper

6 Apr 2016


As the sun’s lengthening days settle us into the spring, newborn bees and their caretakers are emerging from their hives and going to work, collecting pollen and nectar and replenishing the colony’s food stores. Along the way, any number of the 60,000 or so bees that make up a single hive may be stopping by your garden or yard to …

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Around Virginia

Update: Remains Located in Shenandoah National Park; Search Efforts Suspended

VSP Photo - 4-21-16 Whiteoak Canyon Trail Entrance VSP

Update: Body preliminarily identified as Nicole K. Mittendorff, 31, of Woodbridge. The physical and digital evidence collected during the course of this investigation includes a note recovered from the car leads investigators to believe there was no foul play involved in her death. ——————– Search efforts in the Shenandoah National …

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Virginia Trooper Shot and Killed at Richmond Bus Terminal

Tpr Dermyer Patrol Car in front of VSP SPHQ

A Virginia State Police trooper has died as a result of his injuries after being shot on March 31 at the Greyhound Bus station in the 2900 block of North Boulevard in Richmond. At approximately 2:40 p.m., Virginia State Police Trooper Chad P. Dermyer approached a male subject just inside …

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Governor McAuliffe Announces Designation of Four New Virginia Main Street Communities


Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced the designation of four communities in the Virginia Main Street (VMS) program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The newly-designated communities include the town of Wytheville, the cities of Danville and Lexington and Gloucester Courthouse in Gloucester County. The communities …

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Western Loudon Volleyball Club “Hitmen” Team Finishes Second

3 Feb 2016


The Western Loudon Volleyball Club U14 boys team, called the “Hitmen,” finished second in a tournament held January 17. This is the first ever boys team for the WLVBC (and only the second boys club in the area). Coach Allan Kotmel led the seven-member team. WLVBC started eight years ago, …

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ODFC West Travel Soccer Program Shines

2 Dec 2015


The Old Dominion Football Club West boys and girls middle school travel soccer program scored big the weekend of November 21 and 22.  The girls Quest Premier 22 team took home the championship in the U12 Girls Premier Division of the Hunt Country Classic located in Fauquier County. The boys …

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