May 2017 Newsletter Available

I have uploaded the most recent newsletter, May 2017, to the Newsletters page. If you wish to receive your own electronic copy, please contact

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You Bet Your Aster

Marquee planting project: COMPLETE! We have our front marquee planting area completely planted for this year’s (and many more) planting season. The final step was to plant a series of annual plants in and around the spaces of the perennials that were planted a few weeks ago. These will add some pop of color to this season’s planting and hopefully you will all get a chance to enjoy them.

We planted a set of Celosias and Zinnias as they will bloom for quite a long time this season and provide a lot of pollen sources for our native pollinators. The Celosia’s will grow about 10″ high and have plumes of bright yellow, pink or magenta flowers. Their name comes from the Greek which means “burning” as our species will look like little fires. The Zinnias will also be a colorful bunch ranging from white, yellow and magenta. They may get to about 1-2ft tall. The full sun area of the marquee will be a great habitat for both of them.

The landscape crew has done their part to cut down the grass and trim all edges. If you notice any unwanted weeds coming up in your yard try to get at the flowers first. You’ll want to get them before they set seed–some of these weed seeds can be in the thousands. Seed heads will appear when the weather begins to get really hot, or the water levels begin to drop causing the plants to “stress.” A little picking will do wonders. You can also use boiled water or a dilution of boiled/hot water and vinegar will also get rid of some of those pesky ones. There are some great resources on how to get rid of some common lawn weeds that I will share in the coming weeks.

Enjoy the outdoors and the wonderful weather.

Let’s get dirty….

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2017 Pool Documents Now Available Online

Updated Pool documents (Instructions, Registration Form, and Rules) have been added to the Rules and Regulations page. Contact Sequoia Management if you have any questions.

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Tobin/Beverly Landscapers this Saturday!

Calling all Strathmeade able-bodied residents. We have another shipment of plants arriving to complete our beautification project of the Tobin/Beverly marquee. This Saturday, April 29th, I am calling all green thumbs, brown thumbs, gardeners, non-gardeners, and anyone else who would like to come and assist the planting of our newly arriving plants. We’ll begin at 9:00am! Bring some shovels, work gloves, water, and let’s get into the dirt! Hope to see you there!

-Strathmeade Landscaping Committee

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You Bet Your Aster

Happy Earth Day Strathmeade Square! I trust that even on this rainy weekend you are able to enjoy time out and about. In celebration of Earth Day I participated in the Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District (NVSWCD, native seedling sale. They do this event each year selecting a group of small shrubs and trees that are important species to our native habitats. The plants they offered all came as bare roots (essentially small roods with a little bit of growth on them–which helps in transplant but requires planting very quickly) and I was able to plant some Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Grey Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) and Arrowood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) in a few common areas around Breckenridge Court. If you come by I’ll be sure to point them out. Each one adds seasonal interest and provides great ecological and habitat benefits for our native pollinators and birds. These will take a little while to really be established and get showy but once they do — they’ll be hard to miss. The NVSWCD is a great resource for native plants. They also offered trees for purchase at very reasonable prices. So if you have a need and would like to increase the habitat in your own back yard, this annual sale is a great place to start (they always have extras too). They also provided rain barrels for purchase.

As many of you have probably been busy cleaning and sprucing up your garden spaces (even if you haven’t that is not a big deal), some things to keep in mind in your garden this season is — what is visiting your flowers? Are there any birds using your plants for nesting material? Have you seen any caterpillars? While some plants will demonstrate a few holes here and there–that is actually a good thing. It means that key food sources have been found and those that eat your leaves will soon be eaten by this year’s brood of new birds. Some areas of your garden that are begging for some attention—maybe consider leaving some areas bare from mulch. Pollinators will use the mud after it rains for key micro nutrients and some native solitary bees (i.e. ones that do not sting and do not operate in hives) use the ground as nests. Its a great way to keep them coming around your flowers, pollinating your tomatoes, squash, or pepper plants.

Weeds & Invasives–this is the perfect time to get rid of these pesky buggers. Some have very cute blooms like violets or even the barren strawberry but each of these can take over very quickly. Some are ok but be sure to watch them. They are great for early season pollinators but can take over and crowd out any native species (which are better suited for our area anyway) very quickly. Most of these weeds are best handled early before they set to seed. If you see a flower pick them out and throw them away. That is the only way you can ensure they will not stay in your yard. Otherwise some species can regrow from just a bit of leaf matter. English ivy will start is growth now too and the juvenile leaves are the only ones that can be affected by any sort of herbicide–though manually pulling and cutting them down are preferred methods. Dandelions do provide some much needed food sources for early emerging pollinators but you may want to get rid of these as well soon before their fluffy seeds begin to open.

Do you have an area you’d like to plant more plants in? Do you have an area that just doesn’t seem to be growing anything? Reach out to the landscape committee and we’d be happy to offer suggestions on what plants to plant, ways to improve some drainage or even ways to add more life to your garden. DISCLOSURE–while we love to collaborate with you all as our neighbors we are NOT licensed horticulturalists or landscapers. We are just very avid gardeners with a passion to increase the enjoyment of all in the community to enjoy time out in their garden.

Til next time—let’s get dirty!!

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You Bet Your Aster

So it seems like Spring has SPRUNG!! Warmer days, sunny days, some showers–all of it means that our growing season is beginning to gain momentum. Part of our Spring planting plan was to plant some new plants in the Marquee area at the intersection of Tobin and Beverly. The idea was to round up some energetic community volunteers, prep the bed and get to planting. But, that didn’t happen. The company we ordered the plants from sent them to us in the most optimal planting time–which meant this past weekend. We ordered all the plants to be bare root plants (no leaves, just roots) which is much more economical, and beneficial for the plant to avoid transplant shock. What this also means is that bare root plants need to be planted as soon as possible–typically within the first 24 hours. So my sincerest apologies for not getting a rousing group of volunteer gardeners together to help out. The perennial plants have all not been planted, watered, and “tagged” (for now) so you can go check them out. The tags are really just there to remind me where they are planted so we can add the annuals when they arrive (no word on this just yet). It will also help us in this first growing season to visualize where they are and track some of their progress. It will also help ensure the grounds crew understand that these growing things are intentional and not weeds so as to avoid them spraying or pulling them.

Each of these plants were selected to provide (in time) the greatest floral and foliage show throughout the growing season (April-ish – November) that would also provide the greatest ecological and habitat benefit. What did we plant? I am glad you asked!
Aromatic Aster (Aster oblongifolius)
Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Midland Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
Fire Pink (Silene virginica)
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida)

They will need some TLC this first growing season but are all hearty native plants to the mid-atlantic and Virginia. They will be their absolute best in a growing season or two.

With that please feel free to check them out. Give them some water if you notice they may need it. But above all–enjoy!

What’s growing in your garden? Let me know. If you have areas in your garden you’d like some recommendations or just to bounce ideas off of, we’re happy to help. Again I do apologize for planting on my own this round. But rest assured I will reach out to you all for assistance for the marquee area once the annuals arrive.

In the meantime…let’s get dirty!

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You Bet Your Aster


The spring weather for 2017 is upon us EARLY! That means as we try to check what to wear and how to prepare for our days, our landscape is probably going nuts doing the same thing. Do we leaf out or do we put flowers out? Many plants react to longer days indicated by more sun, and others react to the changes in temperature. Phenology is the study of blooms and plant growth. Essentially it asks what do you see blooming, budding or turning with respect to plants.  The US National Phenology Network tracks this information throughout the growing season. And this site tracks phenology along the Appalachian Trail. You can check their website out and see what is growing now. You can even join their efforts to provide data in your landscape too. What’s starting to grow in your garden?
27 Feb – 03 Mar 2017 is also National Invasive Species Awareness Week. What is an invasive? Well it’s typically any species intentionally or accidentally introduced by human activity into a region in which they did not evolve and cause harm to natural resources, economic activity or humans. This goes for any species in a floral or fauna category.  You can see some of the activities around what this week is all about here:  To learn more about what are considered invasive species for Virginia, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VA-DCR) has a website dedicated to this very topic.  You can review it here:
Garden Tips:
Spring is a great time to assist newly emerging native bees, many of which have been dormant over the winter months hiding in leaf litter, logs, bricks or in the ground as many are solitary ground dwellers–best part is they are not aggressive and have no stingers. Bonus! As they emerge they are looking for some food to make up their caloric stores they’ve expended. Some great spring flowers that many of our native bees are seeking are things like-Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon media), Spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Yellow Trout Lily. (Erythronium americanum), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) just to name a few. If you are like me, I am just itching to watch the new growth on my plants that look dull and dreary right now. But if you can hold out a little longer–the leaf litter and “untidiness” of your yard will help all the beneficial insects and perhaps even a few dormant caterpillars who’ve nestled in for the winter. As the weather warms and the spring rains come you can begin to spruce up a bit but leaving things be for a few more weeks will bring a great benefit to your soil and the beneficial critters who may be waiting for the temperature to stabilize a bit.
See you in the garden. Let’s get dirty!
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February 2017 Newsletter Available

I have uploaded the most recent newsletter, February 2017, to the Newsletters page. If you wish to receive your own electronic copy, please contact

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December Newsletter Available

I have uploaded the most recent newsletter, December 2016, to the Newsletters page. If you wish to receive your own electronic copy, please contact

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September and October Newsletters Available

I have uploaded the two most recent newsletters, September and October 2016, to the Newsletters page. If you wish to receive your own electronic copy, please contact

Two quick reminders for October:

  • The Strathmeade Square Community Association Annual Meeting on October 19, 2016 at 7:30 PM in the pool house.
  • Halloween Parade begins on October 31 @ 5:30 pm, with a Group Photo at 6:00 pm.
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