Current News 2018-05-04T10:54:12+00:00

Fairfax Master Gardeners Still ‘Plotting’ in May

On Saturday, May 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon, Fairfax County Master Gardeners will once again set up information booths at four County Community Garden Plot sites: Baron Cameron in Reston, Nottoway Park in Vienna, Pine Ridge Park in Annandale and Franconia Park in Springfield. We will answer gardening questions, give out soil sample kits, and offer free analyses of plant and pest problems at our Diagnostic Laboratory in Fairfax.

Spring has been a little late this year, but by the end of May all vegetable gardens should be in full swing. It will then be time to plant those tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other summer vegetables.

Come share your knowledge with us; we will help with advice and free Lab diagnostic analysis of your plant problems.
Garden Plot Plant Clinic Information

New Master Gardeners Begin Classes

interns photoWe are excited to welcome 41 new interns to our Fairfax County Master Gardeners Association. They come to us from many different work and gardening experiences. Their careers include a variety of people-focused occupations, including teaching, health-related fields, paralegal, and computer/IT fields. They seem to have a great sense of volunteerism, too. They have worked with school PTAs, Girl Scouts, animal rescue organizations, and environmental clubs and have a strong sense in helping social causes, such as hunger and homelessness.

Most have childhood memories instilled with the love of gardening from their parents or grandparents. They have a wide range of experience in gardening from being novices to more experienced gardeners. Some have also enjoyed attending other local gardening classes. They are enthusiastic about being a part of our group and researching and discovering the solutions to gardening problems we face here in Fairfax County.

Classes began for them on January 10 with an orientation program and a meeting with their mentors for the next three years. Their first class with the second- and third-year interns was a basics of botany class. It was a fun, hands-on class where they identified parts of trees and shrubs as they appear in the winter landscape.

Other classes included Turf Management, Woody Plants, Plant Pathology, and Integrated Plant Care/Tree Decline and Death. This week they were part of a Plant Clinic Training class, in which all members took a refresher course in plant clinic participation. Other classes continue until the end of March, with a Plant Clinic Practice Exercise on April 18.

Bulletin on the Boxwood Blight

Virginia Cooperative Extension Bulletin
Current situation in Virginia, 10/6/17
According to records of the Virginia Boxwood Blight Task Force, to date boxwood blight has been diagnosed in over 70 locations and approximately 30 counties in Virginia. There are likely additional undocumented incidences of the disease, for example, if no sample was submitted for diagnosis through Virginia Cooperative Extension or the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Although boxwood blight has been diagnosed in many counties in Virginia, there is no indication that it is widespread throughout any Virginia county. This is not unexpected, based on the current understanding of the biology of the boxwood blight pathogen. Boxwood blight is typically initially introduced into a new location on infected boxwood or other susceptible plants (e.g. pachysandra and sweet box). Holiday greenery containing infected boxwood can also introduce the disease into a new location. However, boxwood blight is not spread long-distance via wind currents. Therefore, one need not panic even if the disease has been found in one’s county. However, if the disease has been identified in one’s neighborhood, then there is a heightened risk of local spread of the disease.

Boxwood stems

Black streaks on stems

After the initial introduction of boxwood blight-infected boxwood (or pachysandra or sweet box) into a location, neighborhood boxwood plantings are at risk for boxwood blight. There are a number of means by which the sticky spores of the fungal pathogen can move through a neighborhood. For example, they can be spread via contaminated pruning tools, spray hoses, equipment, vehicles, clothing, shoes, or infested leaves spread by leaf blowers. Wildlife (including birds), insects, domestic animals or humans that have been in contact with the spores may also move the infective spores through a neighborhood. Movement of the pathogen by many of these means has been documented in locations in Virginia.

To safeguard Virginia boxwood plantings and production, we call for community awareness and efforts to avoid accidental introduction of boxwood blight into new locations and prevent local spread of boxwood blight:

  • Purchase boxwood, pachysandra and sweet box only from a nursery that is listed as a member of the Boxwood Blight Cleanliness Program and/or from a retailer who sells only boxwood produced by nurseries in the Boxwood Blight Cleanliness Program.
  • If boxwood blight is suspected, immediately contact your local Extension office, which can submit a sample for confirmatory diagnosis. Where boxwood blight is confirmed, it is strongly recommended to immediately remove and double bag all diseased plants and fallen leaves as well as contaminated soil underneath the planting. The bagged waste should be removed to a designated landfill to mitigate disease spread to other boxwood in the landscape and other properties nearby.
  • Employ only landscape professionals who are aware of how boxwood blight spreads, since boxwood blight can be introduced to properties through landscape maintenance activities. The fungal spores and fallen diseased leaves can be moved on tools, boots, tarps, hoses, clothing and vehicles. Landscape professionals should have a stringent sanitation plan in place to decontaminate tools, equipment, vehicles, clothing, shoes, etc. between landscape locations and other practices that minimize the chance to move the disease through landscaping activities.
  • Adhere to best management practices outlined for boxwood blight, which are detailed in PDFs available at the Virginia Boxwood Blight Task Force website.

Resources: the Virginia Boxwood Blight Task Force website and Best Management Practices
Refer to the Virginia Boxwood Blight Task Force website for further information on boxwood blight. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the appropriate Best Management Practice (BMP) for your situation. The BMPs are available on the website as PDFs.