Author Archives: gabbyvce

Parasitic Plants Offer Insight Into Plant Communication


You might be familiar with carnivorous plants (like the Venus fly trap) that feed on insects, but have you heard of parasitic plants that feed on other plants?

Parasitic plants aren’t much of a problem for home gardeners in Virginia, but they do have very important lessons to teach us about the ways that plants communicate with and sense one another. For example, dodder, a relatively common parasitic plant in Virginia, germinates and then grows towards a host plant that it will latch onto in order to steal water and nutrients. Dodder has evolved a sophisticated set of sensory adaptations that allow it to find appropriate host plants without being able to “see” what’s around it.

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Diplopoda: The Not-So Creepy Crawlies


By Jackson Means ( and Derek Hennen (

Millipedes (Fig. 1) are one of those insect-like creatures that you’re likely to encounter in your garden on a regular basis, and toss aside as just another natural oddity you would rather not look at too closely. One could not be blamed for this reaction; millipedes do frequently produce chemical defenses that can smell quite powerful and have a few too many legs to remain in the comfort zone of most people. This really is a shame, as millipedes are one of the most fascinating and diverse groups of animals on the planet. Plus, some of those chemical defenses smell like cherry cola, which is pretty cool.

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Boxwood Blight: Frequently Asked Questions

boxwood blight

Boxwoods are a useful and popular element of many Virginia gardens, but boxwood blight, a serious fungal disease first discovered in the United States in 2011, poses a threat to Virginia’s boxwoods.

Mary Ann Hansen, manager of the VT Plant Disease Clinic, recently visited the Extension Master Gardener State Office to share information on boxwood blight and offer suggestions for controlling the spread of this serious disease in Virginia.

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Strasburg Community Garden

master gardeners instal sign at community garden

By Gabrielle Sanderson

Do you know what a food desert is?  A food desert is an urban area where is it difficult to buy affordable, or good-quality fresh food.  You may be shocked to know that there are many of these, right here in Virginia! The town of Strasburg has a food desert that encompasses 90% of its community. Two conservation specialists, from the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District, decided to address this food desert dilemma by building a grant-funded Strasburg Community Garden, which opened in the Spring of 2018.

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Tree Steward Manual Updated for 2018

live oak

A group of dedicated Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Tree Stewards has been working hard to produce a new manual for Advanced EMG Tree Steward training that’s designed especially for Virginia EMGs.

“There was a real need for information specifically for Virginia EMGs,” says Carol King who helped lead efforts to produce the new Tree Steward manual. “This new manual has information on each region of Virginia and is tailored for Master Gardeners. It includes examples of past unit projects with trees, as well as space for local units to add their own content.” According to Frank Reilly this manual is a vast improvement over the previous edition. It includes many more illustrations and write-ups as well as more current information.

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Massey Herbarium Serves Plant Researchers–and Virginia Home Gardeners

plant specimine samples

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech serves researchers and scientists across the country, but it is also an important resource for Virginia gardeners and plant lovers!

While herbaria have long served an important role in assisting researchers interested in plant taxonomy, evolution, and ecology, digitization efforts are expanding the reach and utility of herbarium resources to the public by helping plant lovers identify the plants that grow in their local area and by involving the public in plant collection and archiving efforts.

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Historic Gardens Highlighted at Upcoming Rappahannock Area Event

historic gardens highlighted

The Extension Master Gardeners of the Central Rappahannock Area Presents the 6th Annual Living in the Garden Symposium: Historical Trees and Gardens Of Virginia Saturday, April 7, 2018 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM

This April, The Extension Master Gardeners of the Central Rappahannock Area will host their 6th Annual Living in the Garden Symposium, though this year’s event incorporates some big changes, including a new location and a new theme made possible by a full year of planning and fundraising.

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