Ask A Master Gardener

ask a master gardener

Are you gardening challenged? On The Valley Today this afternoon, host Janet Michael went to the Frederick County Extension Office to chat with several Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners to get answers to some popular questions. Joanne Royaltey, a Program Associate in the Consumer Horticulture & Invasive Species department of Virginia Cooperative Extension led the conversation. You can click here to listen to the conversation.

Joining them to chat about gardening issues and the Master Gardener class itself were:

  • Lucy Carlson, Master Gardener
  • Linda Bartlett, MG Class of 2022
  • Evelyn Garland, MG Class of 2022
  • Lisa Robertson, MG Class of 2022

The group talked about their experiences in the class, why they joined and what they’ve learned from their participation. They also shared answers to several questions that they are asked through their “Ask a Master Gardener” help line (aka GreenHelpLine.)

If you have any type of gardening question, volunteers at the Extension Master Gardener Help Desks will research your problem and provide unbiased, research-based solutions AT NO CHARGE. They can answer questions about trees, shrubs, house plants, perennials, annuals, and more!

You can simply e-mail a description (ideally with photos) of your gardening problems to the GreenHelpLine in your county, or stop by during office hours (see below) in Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties. Page and Clarke Help Desks operate virtually, and do not hold in-person office hours. During the growing season visit their booths at area plant clinics and farmers markets as well.

Today they discussed the types of questions they get and how they find answers and solutions for them. Topics included mulching, tree-topping (DON’T DO IT!!), growing tomatoes, propagating African Violets, the importance of soil testing and learned about choosing the right space for the right plant.

Contact your local office below, visit their website: and follow them on Facebook.

  • Frederick County
    • Location: VCE Office, 107 North Kent Street, Winchester, VA
    • Help Desk Hours: Every Wednesday, 10 a.m.–Noon
    • E-mail:
    • Phone: 540-665-5699
    • Southern States Farmers Market: Third Saturday of each month, April–October, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Clarke County
    • Drop-off location and hours: VCE Office, 524 Westwood Rd., Berryville, VA; Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • E-mail: (include “Clarke County Gardening Question” in the subject line)
    • Phone: 540-955-5164
    • Clarke County Farmers Market: Second Saturday of each month, May–October, 8 a.m.–Noon,
  • Page County
    • Drop-off location and hours: VCE Office, 215 W. Main St., Suite C, Stanley, VA; Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • E-mail: (include “Page County Gardening Question” in the subject line)
    • Phone: 540-778-5794
    • Plant Clinic at Massanutten Country Corner: Second and Fourth Saturdays of each month, April–October, 9 a.m.–Noon
  • Shenandoah County
    • Location: VCE Office and Classroom, Shenandoah County Government Center, 600 N. Main St., Suite 100, Woodstock, VA
    • Help Desk Hours: First and third Fridays of each month, April through October, 9 a.m. –Noon; First Fridays in November and December, 9 a.m.–Noon
    • E-mail:
    • Phone: 540-459-6140
    • South Street Barn Farmers Market: Last Saturday of each month, May–September, 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
    • Strasburg Farmers Market: Alternating Saturdays, April–October, 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
  • Warren
    • Location: VCE Office, Warren County Government Center, 220 N. Commerce Ave., Suite 500, Front Royal, VA
    • Help Desk Hours: First Monday of the month, April through October, 10 a.m. –1 p.m.
    • E-mail:
    • Phone: 540-635-4549

WFRD is recognized by the American Heart Association

Drew DeHaven

The City of Winchester announced that the Winchester Fire and Rescue Department (WFRD) has been recognized by the American Heart Association.

The WFRD received the American Heart Association’s Mission Lifeline EMS Gold Plus achievement award.

This is in recognition of the WFRD’s commitment to offering rapid, research based care to people experiencing the most severe form of heart attack.

Thanks to the quick accurate response of the WFRD they have ultimately saved lives.

When it comes to blockage of blood flow to the heart  timely treatment is critical.

The American Heart Association’s  Mission Lifeline is treatment that begins with  that 911 call and continues through hospital treatment and  discharge.

Optimal care for the patient takes coordination between the hospital, EMS and health care system to add  life saving minutes in treatment.

The Mission Lifeline achievement award is earned by agencies that demonstrate a commitment to treating patients.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

SCBI hatches a whooping crane

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal announced the birth of a Whooping Crane.

This Whooping Crane is one of the most endangered types of it’s kind in the world.

The SCBI announced the birth on May 26 and it is doing well.

A bird team took an orphaned egg in an abandoned nest in Wisconsin to the institute to be hatched.

The adoptive parents are protective and attentive to the young bird’s needs and the almost month old chick is thriving under their care.

In 1941 approximately 22 whooping cranes remained in the wild due to a number of causes including hunting and poaching.

Today approximately 700 whooping cranes have been recorded in the wild and 140 live in human care.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

VDOT reschedules sinkhole work after July 4

new bridges shenandoah county

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) announced in an email the rescheduling of the sinkhole repair in Shenandoah County.

As Ken Slack always says road work is weather permitting.

The sinkhole work on Interstate 81 north in Shenandoah County was scheduled to start June 22.

With the heavy rains the work has to be rescheduled.

VDOT announced the work will now have to wait until after the Independence Day weekend.

An announcement will be made in the meantime the temporary patch in place is being monitored constantly by VDOT.

For up to the minute road and travel information anytime click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

REC responds to power loss from the storms

power outage

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) reports that they and mutual aid crews are responding as quickly and safely as possible after the June 22 storms.

As of  last night more than 13,000 member owners remained without power after what has been described as tornado like damage in an email from REC.

Nearly 180 separate outage events have been reported.

Crews continue to discover broken poles and downed wires and trees.

In the Warrenton area at least seven poles in a row were found to be broken along Route 211.

Severe weather throughout the evening complicated restoration efforts as crews continue to work to restore power.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative reminds citizens to remain safe if you find a downed wire stay away from.

Always assume the wire is energized stay at least 10 feet away from it and anything in contact with it.

Call 911 as well as the Cooperative to report any downed wires.

Always unplug any appliances that may have been on when power went out as it will be in the same mode when power returns.

Always report power outages even if you believe neighbors have done so.

Report an outage and find progress of restoration efforts using your smart phone at or right here.

A direct link to all things REC is found here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Remembering Brig Owens

Greetings from The Booth!

In the down time between the Spring and Fall seasons at Shenandoah University, we take time this week to recognize the academic achievements of the Hornet’s Athletic Department. For only the second time since team GPAs have been tracked at SU, all 22 intercollegiate programs have at least a 3.0 team grade point average. Ashley Smeltzer-Kraft’s field hockey team were the ‘brainiacs” of the bunch, leading the way with a collective 3.68, while on the men’s side, ODAC champ baseball had a team 3.4. When you consider the hectic schedule of a D-3 student-athlete, this is an amazing accomplishment. The bar has been set high at Shenandoah, both on the academic and athletic fronts, not to mention community service, and you can’t do much better than 22 for 22!  For more on this topic, check out this week’s Sports Dog’s Podcast, and my conversation with SU’s Scott Musa.

If you’re a fan of the old Washington Redskins’ “Over The Hill Gang” of the 1970’s, this is a tough week. On Tuesday, safety Brig Owens passed away at the age of 79. Owens was a defensive captain for those George Allen-led teams, including the 1972 squad, who went all the way to Super Bowl VII, before falling to Miami (Owens picked off a pass in that game).

His 36 interceptions are second only to the great Darrell Green in team history, a mark that earned Owens a spot in the ‘Skins Ring Of Fame. He also made some NFL history that you may not know about. In 1966, Owens and tight end Jerry Smith became the league’s first interracial roommates, and remained so in their 12 seasons in DC. In an age where most NFL players had to have an off-season job to make ends meet, Brig Owens attended law school as his playing days wound down, and put that to good use in the NFL Players Association as a player rep, and assistant executive director.

I had the pleasure, through my good friend Dr. Kurt Pierce (who played football at UVA and for the Miami Dolphins), of meeting Brig Owens over the Christmas holidays at the Sam Huff memorial in Middleburg. Among other things, we talked about maybe his most famous play. It happened on a Monday Night game in 1973 against the Dallas Cowboys. With the score tied at 7 late in the contest, RFK Stadium erupted as Owens picked off a Craig Morton pass and returned it 26 yards for what would be the game-winning score. That play was overshadowed somewhat by the Ken Houston goal line tackle moments later on Walt Garrison (the most famous tackle in Washington football history). I said to Brig, “I remember that interception like it was yesterday.” His reply to me, in his understated way, was “So do I.”

Brig Owens accomplished much on the field and off in his illustrious career , but my lingering memory of him will be of that legendary pick-six against the hated Cowboys. Rest in Peace, Brig! I’m proud to have met you…

Until the next visit from the Booth, GO HORNETS and HTTR!






Update on the accident that closed Rt. 340 for 7 hours

An email from Virginia State Police (VSP) confirms the death of two people in the accident that closed Route 340.

The accident closed Route 340 between Double Toll Gate and Waterloo for almost 7 hours Mon. June 20.

VSP confirms that Shea E. Hawkins of Winchester and Lewis E. Thompson of Grottoes were killed in the accident that remains under investigation.

The 31 year old Hawkins was driving out of a private drive in the 15300 block of Route 340 when her brakes appear to have failed.

Hawkins’ 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee collided with a 2001 Mack Truck driven by the 66 year old Thompson.

The impact caused both vehicles to run off the road and overturn.

Thompson’s truck which was hauling cement caught fire after the incident.

Both victims died at the scene as a result of their injuries both were wearing their seatbelts.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.