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Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

May 5, 2015 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Planting an Allergy-Free Garden
donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson

Tom Ogren has a long-time interest in allergy-inducing plants. He has written several books on the topic and in February released his latest The Allergy Fighting Garden.

He explains why plants can stir up allergies and has included information about 3,000 different species that we plant in our landscapes and grow in seasonal gardens. His ranking system relates to the level, size, stickiness, and potency of pollen produced. … Continue Reading

April Is The Time To Plant – Don’t Forget Hardscapes

April 1, 2015 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on April Is The Time To Plant – Don’t Forget Hardscapes
berries

– By Donna Williamson

April is a perfect time to plant permanent fruit-bearing plants at your home. The soil has good moisture and we can get the plants established before it gets too hot and dry.
You might be interested in the excellent book The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips. He has valuable information on growing all kinds of trees and berry fruits.

Blueberries love our climate but hate hot and dry conditions. Areas with sun, good moisture, and good drainage are premium spots for your blueberry bushes. Blueberries bloom on old or last year’s woody growth so early pruning would be counter-productive for your pie-maker.

Blackberries are delicious, love our summer heat/humidity, and are easy to grow. Like raspberries, they grow well in northern Virginia. You will enjoy them more with a little containment system that makes picking the berries easier. Google ‘berry trellis’ to view various design and building options.

Gooseberries and currants are shrubby. These old-time fruits are delicious in pancakes and jams. There are several varieties you can grow easily. Tuck them into a shrub border. Little hands can pick them easily. Don’t plant near white pines.

Rhubarb is another permanent fruit for your home landscape. Each year, it will emerge in spring to treat you with great pink stalks ready to be stewed with a bit of sugar and served by itself or with strawberries.

Figs require space and some winter protection but are well worth it. The leaves can be large and tropical looking and the fruit is the flower. Delicious and succulent fruit ripens in late summer.

Grapes can be wonderful – I’ve had good luck with the Concord grape. It tastes exactly like childhood memories of grape jam. There are seeds though. Grapes grow on a woody vine that can be trained over a fence, arch, pergola, or trellis, providing a leafy canopy in summer. Annual pruning keeps it from getting out of bounds.

Now On To Hardscapes

“Hardscapes” is a term used by landscape folks about the stuff that is not plants. Walkways, patios, fountains, pergolas, stairs, pool decks, fences, and stonewalls are all examples of hardscaping.

If you are planning to have some hardscaping done, you will want that finished before you add the plants. Plants are easily beaten up in the midst of stone, stone dust, gravel, forms, concrete and big construction boots.

My best advice to you is when you have any steps are installed, be sure the riser (the up piece) is no more than 4-5 inches high and the tread (the part you step on) is at least 16-18+ inches wide. It will give you a nice, comfortable step or stair. Steps should be solid and flat – no tipping and evenly spaced for good, safe, long-time usefulness.

Walkways are most accommodating when they are 4-5 feet wide, so two people can walk side-by-side, and are uniformly flat.

Stonewalls are lovely. A short stonewall, as part of a patio, can be useful as extra seating when entertaining. Short walls can also create terracing when there is a change in grade.
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Donna Williamson is a garden designer and coach. She has taught classes at the State Arboretum of Virginia, Oatlands and Shenandoah University. She has two e-books on Amazon – one is an updated version of her Virginia gardening book and her new perennials book. She can be reached at donnawilliamson2002@earthlink.net or 540 877-2002.

Nine Ideas As You Prepare Your Garden for Spring

March 4, 2015 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Nine Ideas As You Prepare Your Garden for Spring
spring garden butterfly

By Donna Williamson

As winter winds down, we are so eager to get out and start cleaning-up and getting the growing season going. Many folks start pruning; remember that annual/regular pruning is not required or necessary. Spring flowering plants, like forsythia, can be pruned after flowering. Summer bloomers, like lavender, can be pruned earlier in spring as they flower on new growth. (For more info see pruning lists at www.dwfinegardening.com) … Continue Reading

Enjoying the Harvest of Your Summer Garden – Now

February 3, 2015 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Enjoying the Harvest of Your Summer Garden – Now
donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson

Bitter, windy, nasty weather has given me an opportunity to look at some of the books I’ve collected recently and think about plants I want to try this summer season.

From the book, The Resilient Gardener, I read about parching corn. With certain species of corn, you can drop a few kernels in a dry cast iron pan and cook them to deliciousness. The author also parches kernels in a custard cup in the microwave. The toasted kernels enlarge, split, and get soft and sweet. It doesn’t work with all kinds of corn; after doing extensive research it seems the red/purple varieties are the tastiest. Seeds of Change carries “Red Supai” (seedsofchange.com) while Seed Dreams (SeedDreams.blogspot.com) offers “Parching Lavender Mandan”. Siskiyou Seeds (siskiyouseeds.com) has “Magenta Parching Corn”. The author, Carol Deppe breakfasts on a cup of tea and a handful of parched corn. … Continue Reading

Preparing Your Garden for Spring

January 6, 2015 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Preparing Your Garden for Spring
FrecklesRose

By Donna Williamson

My winter sowing experiments of the last two winters have been entertaining and successful. One of the amazing things is that growing woody plants from seed is remarkably easy. Hydrangeas, abelias, and roses have germinated and grown quickly.

The tiny rose hips from my native pasture rose (Rosa carolina) opened to reveal shiny brown seeds that grew into foot tall plants this past summer. This rose actually likes sunny, dry hillsides and can thrive here on the mountain, forming dense thickets that birds, butterflies, and bees enjoy.

The practice of setting seeds and a little clean potting soil out in plastic containers to have rain, snow, and frigid temperatures as well as sun work on them is a great way to increase the perennials in your garden inexpensively. Whether you buy seeds or collect them from existing plants, annuals and perennials grow very well using this process. … Continue Reading

December A Time To Look Back – A Time To Plan

December 10, 2014 Virginia Gardening Comments Off on December A Time To Look Back – A Time To Plan
donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson

December is a great time to look back on the gardening year and remember what went well or failed miserably.

Last winter’s winter-sowing of seeds went very well in spite of the polar vortex and I was able to test the seed of a couple of woody plants including the Carolina rose, all of which germinated well. Though winter is not my best season, being able to start seeds of perennials and shrubs outside with hopes for the spring makes it much more tolerable.

After reading an article about delaying a second planting of tomatoes this spring, I held back some of my little ones in containers and planted them in the ground a month after my first tomato planting. Since I grow many heirloom tomatoes, diseases always hit them in late summer and they start to dwindle. The later planted tomatoes were robust and productive until killed by the frosty temperatures in November. So that is a tip to pass along – make two plantings of tomatoes a month apart and see for yourself. … Continue Reading

Achieving a Natural Balance in the Garden

MagSieboldii

By Donna Williamson

This spring I noticed that my Magnolia sieboldii was looking wonky. This is usually a spectacular magnolia with downward facing blooms and red stamens in the center of the flower.

I thought maybe the terrible winter had damaged it. The leaves had come out but the closer I looked, I saw that it had sooty mold. It’s called sooty mold because it looks like soot staining the bark or the leaves. It is a fungus that grows on the sugary poo of tiny leaf-sucking critters, often aphids or whiteflies. And, in my experience, sooty mold is a harmless symptom of insect activity. It doesn’t really hurt the tree. … Continue Reading

Time To Plant Bulbs

October 7, 2014 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Time To Plant Bulbs
TSylvestriswithblues

By Donna Williamson

It’s time to plant bulbs again – seems like this year flew by.

It’s easy to fall in love with bulbs. They are not costly, they bring joy in the spring, and many of them will build colonies over time.

Even the woodland tulip will come back for you. It’s a charming short yellow tulip that seems to like our climate. Most big tulips are good for one year and then they are not able to cure in our hot spring weather, preferring the cool, moist landscape of Holland or Seattle. It’s called Tulipa sylvestris.

Oatlands has had a large colony of this tulip at the back of the mansion for many years. I’ve found them at older properties and include them in newer plantings. … Continue Reading

Goldenrod – A Major Fall Beauty

September 3, 2014 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Goldenrod – A Major Fall Beauty
donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson

It’s easy to think that goldenrod causes autumn sniffles. It’s a native with species that tolerate all kinds of conditions, from full sun to shade, from moist soils to hot and dry. And it blooms everywhere around the same time that the real culprit – ragweed – is blooming and full of pollen.

Ragweed is a tall, coarse plant with tiny greenish flowers and huge quantities of yellow pollen. It’s a plant so non-descript and inelegant that many have never looked at it carefully. Ragweed just seems to be a green thing in the background of many paths and along the road. (And it’s not that very tall plant with yellow daisy-like flowers that bloom along the road – that’s called frost weed. If you look carefully at the stems you will see wings or thin, papery tissue along the stem. Frost weed got its name for erupting with ice at the base of the plant during the first frosts of the season. Harmless.) … Continue Reading

Tomato Harvest and Other Joys

August 6, 2014 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Tomato Harvest and Other Joys
potato

By Donna Williamson

Ah, it’s tomato time. As usual, I planted and grew many heirloom and newer varieties of tomato plants and am loving every minute of the harvest. Those little cherry tomatoes are so delicious and refreshing while working in the garden or roasted with a touch of olive oil for 20 minutes in a hot oven.

And the big, juicy tomatoes ready for a burger or a salad are the best. Warm from the garden and never refrigerated, tomato sliced with fresh basil and mozzarella is a memorable summer dish.

My tomato bounty is ready for processing and canning for winter use. Keeping up with the harvest and processing in small batches works for me. … Continue Reading

Let’s Start Thinking About Planning A Fall Garden

July 3, 2014 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Let’s Start Thinking About Planning A Fall Garden
fallgarden

– By Donna Williamson

There is so much information out there about gardening and planting – it makes my head spin. Some good information, some bad information that just gets repeated over and over – so here is some info I hope will help.

You can water your plants in the sun. Thunderstorms do it all the time. Better to have enough water than to wilt and be stressed.

If possible, water in the morning before it gets too hot and stresses the plants.
There are cool season weeds and there are warm season weeds. The cool-loving ones have already bloomed, set seed, and gone dormant while the warm season plants are very strong in July. If you don’t have time to weed them out, at least cut off and throw away the seeds they are producing so you will have fewer weeds next year.
Late July and August is perfect timing to start those fall veggies that like cooler weather. They get a good start in warm soils and then can boldly get through the cold nights of fall and even winter with some protection.

… Continue Reading

June – July Experiment Planting Tomatoes

June 3, 2014 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on June – July Experiment Planting Tomatoes
junejulyexperiment

By Donna Williamson

It’s possible to be regularly fascinated if gardening is a pastime you love. Just last year I learned about winter-sowing and started growing baptisia, hydrangea, and many native perennials from seed easily and inexpensively.

Last month I read an article about planting tomatoes in succession. It’s good timing to think about that idea. I grow several varieties of heirloom tomatoes because I can/jar them in the late summer for winter use and good tomato taste is important. But the heirlooms have not been “improved” and are often susceptible to diseases as the summer goes on. They also can slow down in production of new tomatoes in late summer. … Continue Reading

Hurry Up – Plant Something

April 30, 2014 Columns, Virginia Gardening Comments Off on Hurry Up – Plant Something
GoldenNinebarkFlowers

By Donna Williamson

Spring is here and while it’s possible there might be a few more chilly moments, the worst is over. What is more likely is that we will heat up and be in full summer before too long.

In an average year, the rains are plentiful in the spring and seem to disappear around the end of May. So get some planting done soon so the gentle rains can do the watering for you.

New plants need to be established – lots of plant professionals talk about that. It means that you cannot count on Mother Nature to care for your perennials, shrubs, trees, or even that basil plant until the roots have had time to dig into your soil and drink up ground water. So you need to shepherd your new plants, sometimes for months, to make sure they get enough water. … Continue Reading


 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

The Trump Effect

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“Corals are marine magicians. As colonies of the tiny ocean organisms grow, they transform the calcium that circulates in seawater into enormous limestone reefs. These reefs—which can extend for more than 1,000 miles and provide homes for crabs, eels, sea …

Six Tips To a New Year and a New You in 2017

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By Michael Oberschenider, Psy.D. Research has shown that as many as 45 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions, but only about eight percent are actually successful in achieving them. And it seems that age is a factor: about 39 …

Investing in the Family Stock

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Family relationships are usually not considered under the rubric of “investments”. Yet, the personal gain and loss from family relationships is much more significant than economic return from stocks and bonds. Taking time out to relate to a person without …

Choosing a Different Lens

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We have all heard, “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” maybe even said it aloud while perusing old photo albums or scrolling through Facebook timelines. Sometimes words fall short of adequately describing an emotion encapsulating a distinct moment. Pictures fill …

Freedom Park

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A great name for a great place, this public space shows us – in my opinion – what’s best about Leesburg, Loudoun County and our country. Freedom Park – just off the Dulles Greenway on the South side of Town …

The Grim Reaper and the Great Barrier

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(to be presented to the Board of Supervisors in January) “The recent frequency and intensity of mass coral bleaching are of major concern, and are directly attributable to rising atmospheric greenhouse gases.” [1]

Pearl Harbor

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By Nicholas Reid Seventy-five years ago this December 7, to quote President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” It will have been 75 …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016

grads_woodgrove

Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016

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Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016

adamspromoted

Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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Calendar

January 2017
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016

Family New Year’s Eve Celebration

January 1, 2017

New Year's Day Musikabend

Restore & Renew

January 2, 2017 January 3, 2017 January 4, 2017 January 5, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

January 6, 2017 January 7, 2017

Core Purpose, Core Practice Yoga

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

January 8, 2017
January 9, 2017

AUDITIONS - SEUSSICAL

January 10, 2017 January 11, 2017

Beale Street Puppets: Dig Those Dinosaurs

January 12, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

January 13, 2017 January 14, 2017

THE IMMORTALS

January 15, 2017

Come Paint with Us at Breaux Vineyards

January 16, 2017 January 17, 2017 January 18, 2017

Virginia Opera: Deep River- The Marion Anderson Story

January 19, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

January 20, 2017

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

January 21, 2017

DANNY KNICELY CONCERT

January 22, 2017
January 23, 2017 January 24, 2017 January 25, 2017 January 26, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

January 27, 2017 January 28, 2017 January 29, 2017
January 30, 2017 January 31, 2017 February 1, 2017 February 2, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

February 3, 2017 February 4, 2017

CHINESE NEW YEAR EVENT

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

February 5, 2017
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Lifestyle

Upcoming Waterford Concerts Feature St. Lawrence String Quartet and Four Other Acts

18 Jan 2017

waterford

Subscriptions and tickets are now on sale for five upcoming concerts, the Waterford Concert Series announced. All concerts begin at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons in the Waterford Old School auditorium, 40222 Fairfax Street in Waterford. The concert series begins March 19 with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, known for exalted performances and joyful connection with audiences. First violinist Geoff …

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Historian Rich Gillespie Speaks on Haunts on the Loudoun Landscape

12 Jan 2017

The Mosby Heritage Area Association announced an event in conjunction with the Purcellville Library on January 29, at 2:00 p.m,. which will feature Rich Gillespie, Historian Emeritus of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, speaking on the “Haunts on the Loudoun Landscape.” The stories are all from the personal experiences of long-time local historian and teacher Rich Gillespie, or from close …

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Help Joseph … and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

4 Jan 2017

blueridge2

Blue Ridge Middle School’s PTO is seeking help with its drama department, working diligently on the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat. The children in the show are enthusiastic and very talented. And, the school has a long history of first class productions with recent shows such as The Lion King, which won 11 National Youth Arts Awards …

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Editorial

Grief and Greed

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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 …

Op-ed

Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!

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– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West

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– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception

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We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You …

It’s Our Right

catesbyproposal

On December 6, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a “Minor Special Exception” proposal we submitted earlier this year concerning our Catesby Farm property. Unfortunately, our limited …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm

blueridge2

By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

Office Building on Capitol Square To Be Named After Civil Rights Pioneer Barbara Johns

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Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the newly renovated state building located at 202 N. 9th Street on Capitol Square in Richmond (currently known as the 9th Street Office Building) will bear the name of civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns. The building, which reopened last year, houses the Virginia Attorney General’s …

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Rep. Comstock’s Key Top Priority Legislation Initiatives

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Signed into Law in Her First Term Rep. Barbara Comstock, who serves the 10th congressional district in Virginia, recently reviewed the achievements of her first term in office, identifying 17 legislative initiatives that she supported that were adopted. She said: “My staff and I have met with stakeholders, local elected …

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Man Killed Walking To Gas Station on I-95

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Virginia State Police Trooper M.J. Kryznefski is investigating a fatal pedestrian crash in Prince William County. The crash occurred at approximately 4:10 a.m., on Monday, December 26, on Interstate 95 near Exit 158B. Three males were traveling south on Interstate 95 when their Honda CRV ran out of gas. They …

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Sports

Ida Lee Spring NFL Flag Football Registration Filling Fast

18 Jan 2017

NFL_Flag_Football_at_IdaLee

Deadline for the House League registration is February 13. Registration for the Spring 2017 NFL Flag Football League at Ida Lee is currently open and filling fast. We are excited to offer again two great leagues: Ida Lee NFL Flag Football House League and the Ida Lee NFL Flag Football …

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Woodgrove Grabs First at Glory Days

10 Jan 2017

Woodgrove Gymnastics

The Woodgrove Varsity Gymnastics took first place in the red division of the Glory Days Invitational at Park View High School on Saturday, January 7. Woodgrove competed against Rock Ridge, Potomac Falls, Loudoun Valley and Heritage high schools. Host team Park View came in first in the lower blue division. …

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