Our demonstration garden

Published 5:31 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

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By Mark Carroll

Western Tidewater Master Gardeners

If you have attended one of our plant sales, or taken a leisurely walk around the Blackwater Regional Library in Carrollton, you may have noticed the beautiful assortment of pollinator plants, herbaceous plants, roses, shrubs or other landscape enhancements decorating the library landscape. These are all maintained by the Western Tidewater Master Gardeners and a few gracious volunteers. 

Referred to as a demonstration or learning garden, we use them to help others learn about plants and pollinators and show how a variety of plants can come together in a cohesive design that is good for the overall environmental air quality, as well as nature’s plants and animals. 

To recreate the photo associated with this article, walk to the right of the library entrance, then left down the side of the library, just past the virid rosemary on your left, and you will see this scene unfold in front of you, or perhaps, depending on the visit, another scene will unfold. A pathway to a butterfly bench on the left and a walk bridge on the right and finally a secluded cabana-like structure perfect for hosting an enjoyable and semi-private family picnic on a fall day.

The picture, taken on the 25th of August, shows many different flowers in bloom, and with closer inspection you will no doubt see bees and bugs performing their native actions, pollinating flowers and gathering resources for the winter ahead. Note: Did you see the word “bees”? If you have an allergy, please plan accordingly; it is not so beautiful that it is worth endangering your health. 

Additionally, there is a large complement of butterfly pollinator plants, like milkweed. There is a healthy camellia and a variety of common and not-so-common flowering or landscape plants. Most are labeled so if you find one you have a preference for, take a picture of it in bloom and the labels so you can locate it in a local nursery, or perhaps in a future Master Gardener plant sale.

If you really want to see what a difference purpose and intent make in gardening, I went to an online map, pulled up a street view in front of this library, and I was able to easily compare images collected in 2007, 2012 and 2023. I would say this roadside view has been transformed into something the entire community can take pride in. As our Extension Master Gardener Association grows, we hope to contribute more gardening purpose and intent throughout our area.