To have gardening information, classes and demonstrations happening in Fairfax and Loudoun listed free, mail to 7913 Westpark Drive, McLean, VA 22102 or fax to 703-917-0991 or e-mail email@example.com
<lst>Ten free oak trees – red oaks, pin oaks, bur oaks, scarlet oaks and willow oaks – will be given to each person who joins the National Arbor Day Foundation during April. The free trees are part of the Trees for America campaign and are being given in recognition of the oak’s selection as the People’s Choice for America’s National Tree. More than 440,000 people made their selection in the Vote for America’s National Tree, hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation between Jan. 1 and National Arbor Day 2001. The oak was the favorite, winning 101,000 votes, with the redwood earning second place, with nearly 81,000 votes. The 6- to 12-inch trees will be shipped at the right time for planting during April or May and are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced. To become a member, send a $10 contribution to Ten Free Oak Trees, National Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410, by April 30.
<lst>The Naturalist Center, an extension of the Smithsonian, will hold a “Draw-In” from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on April 13. Artists and illustrators 10 and older can try their hand at drawing objects from the diverse collection of natural history specimens available at the center. Professional illustrators will be on hand to give assistance and career information. Bring your own art supplies. The Naturalist Center is located at 741 Miller Drive in Leesburg. Call 703-779-9712 or 1-800-729-7725.
<lst>Add flowers and fruits to your landscape with a selection of 14 bare root seedlings available from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District for $16.95. The package includes two each of black chokeberry and red Osier dogwood shrubs; common witch hazel, common apple and Washington hawthorn, which are small trees; and persimmon and hackberry, which are larger trees. Prepaid orders must be placed by April 12 by phone at 703-324-1460, or online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/seedlingsale.htm. Prepaid orders will be available for pickup on April 19-20. Quantities are limited.
Green Spring Gardens Park, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, is offering Bonsai demonstrations, Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14. “Bonsai Techniques Applied to Small Space Gardening,” held April 13 from 1:30-2:30 p.m., will demonstrate how root pruning and shaping specimen plants are applicable to small-space and container gardening. Demonstrations on bonsai basics will be conducted by the Bonsai Society of Northern Virginia, April 13 and 14, 10:30-11:30 a.m. All events are free. Call 703-642-5173 for more information.
Learn how to use Feng Shui elements to balance the yin and yang energy in your garden at “Feng Shui Garden Design,” Saturday, April 20, 1-2:30 p.m., at Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria. Reservation and $7 prepayment are required. Call 703-642-5173.
No artistic experience is necessary to enjoy “Botanical Sketching,” being offered by Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria. Working both indoors and out, Barbara Stewart, botanical illustrator, will share techniques for capturing plant characteristics on paper. Bring a sketch pad and No. 2 pencils. Reservation and $20 prepayment are required. Call 703-642-5173.
The annual Bluebell Walk will take place on Sunday, April 14, at 2 p.m., at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville. The 1,500-acre park run by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has one of the largest stands of bluebells on the East Coast. A team of naturalists and park rangers will lead small groups along the 1 1/2-mile Bluebell Trail. Self-guiding pamphlets will be available throughout Bluebell Week, April 15-19.
To reach the park, take I-66 to Exit 52, Route 29 at Centreville; drive two miles south, turn left on Bull Run Post Office Road and follow signs to the park entrance. For information, call 703-528-5406.
This flower-watching bus tour begins with the tidal basin’s cherry blossoms. A stop at Hillwood Estate’s Japanese Garden is followed by a picnic at the National Arboretum. Tour ends with a visit to the Arboretum’s Asian Valley Exhibit. April 23 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., at Green Spring Garden Park. Cost $65. Registration and information at 703-642-5173.
In Fairfax County a battle is being fought to keep non-native plants from taking over the parks. Without any natural checks on their growth, invading plants can quickly crowd out indigenous plants needed by native wildlife. County parks can be preserved by following these general guidelines:
*Yard waste: Do not dispose of yard waste on parkland. Non-native plant seeds in the waste can spread. Learn to “grasscycle,” a practice that improves your lawn and keeps your parks safe;
*Plant disposal: Remains of invasive plants should be put in Fairfax County trash to be burned at the I-95 Waste-to-Energy Facility. Seeds and plants in landfills may still grow;
*Native plants: Use native plants for your grounds and garden.
Especially invasive species include Tree-of-Heaven, Orientalo Bittersweet, Purple Loosestrife, English ivy, Japanese stilt grass and Japanese honeysuckle.
For complete listing of invasive plants or information on native species, call Green Spring Garden Park at 703-642-5173. Information on yard waste and grasscycling, call Fairfax County at 703-324-5052. More information on plant invaders can be found at The Virginia Natural Heritage Web site (www.state.va.us/~dcr/dnh/invinfo.htm) or the Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group Web site (www.nps.gov/plants/alien).