Greening Prince William County: Three Places Where Your Green Thumb is Welcome

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By Linda T. Kennedy

Right now, it’s still winter and the weather is just awful some days. But maybe you’re planning your spring garden. Learn about three local gardening groups that might just provide some inspiration.

CENTENNIAL GARDEN CLUB

If you want to take your gardening to a level above planting a few annuals, you might enjoy checking out the Centennial Garden Club in Manassas, a community who serves the broader Prince William area with their members’ expertise and dedicated gardening hours. 

“We have a lot of fun in our club, but it’s serious, hard work, too,” said Jane Dvonch, club president. “Membership in our club means making a commitment to our community and the projects we’re accomplishing for it.” 

The club, which started in 1976, adopted the name “Centennial” to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the United States that year. Since then, they’ve been responsible for planning and maintaining public gardens such as the Teresa H. Golla Memorial Garden at Central Library. Currently, the club is replacing the 35-year-old plants at the library with plants indigenous to the area. 

More Than Planting Gardens

Other activities include educational programs such as a piano concert featuring music that was inspired by flowers, presentations by professional gardening designers, and field trips. They have visited The Hillwood Estate Mansion and Garden in Washington, D.C. for an exclusive tour of the gardens. 

Those who would like to participate can contact Dvonch and arrange a visit to learn more about the club’s application process.  

“It is an investment of time since we maintain a lot of public spaces,” said Dvonch. “People need to be available to contribute. However, education is a huge part of our program and is right up at the top with volunteerism.”

The monthly meeting usually includes a horticulture-related program or workshop, such as floral design, conservation and environmental issues. For more information, visit the club’s website: centennialgardenclub.com, Facebook page, or email the club at centennialgc@gmail.com.

“We look forward to talking to anyone interested in joining our club,” said Dvonch. “I don’t know the number of hours garden clubs volunteers give, but it’s a phenomenal amount of money that they save the community with volunteering in the gardens.” 

MANASSAS GARDEN CLUB

The Manassas Garden Club leads community beautification projects
throughout the area

You might be a gardener who wants education about nature beyond plants and flowers, and that’s a focus in the Manassas Garden Club, which celebrated its 90th anniversary last year as one of the oldest garden clubs in Virginia. Last year, the club hosted “Bird In the Hand,” featuring Nikki and Frankie Stamps, who presented guest raptors including a barn owl.  

“We sponsor unique educational and learning programs and participate in community events throughout the year,” said the club’s First Vice President Leigh Anne Rhodes. “Generally, meetings and events are for club members, but we welcome the public to participate in many of our club activities.” 

Jump in and Garden in Old Town Manassas

Anyone in the area can enjoy and be a part of the club’s work simply by strolling through the gardens at the Manassas Museum in Old Town Manassas. Rhodes said if you see gardeners busy digging in the dirt there, you could jump right in and join them. 

“We will have a work schedule beginning soon and we welcome the public to help us with the gardens — weeding, mulching, pruning, and so forth,” said Rhodes.

If you’re just looking to stock your own garden, you can order your plants from the Manassas Garden Club during their annual spring planting event. The funds from the event support various gardening projects in the Manassas and Prince William area. For the dates of the event and to preorder plants, contact Rhodes at 703-819-7965.

The club also supports programs through the Prince William Area Council on Aging, including sponsoring the annual holiday wreath-making workshop at the Manassas Senior Center.

MASTER GARDENERS OF PRINCE WILLIAM

The place to go just for occasional gardening-related questions, and to attend just a gardening class or two without the commitment involved with volunteering in a garden club, is the Master Gardeners of Prince William. Since many members from the Manassas area garden clubs volunteer for the organization, you’ll get some of the benefits of consulting with experienced gardeners without putting in the time that comes with being a garden club member.

“Master Gardeners of Prince William are very active in hosting classes for the public and answering all kinds of questions about gardening,” said Leslie Paulson, a gardener in the program, sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resources program. “Our volunteers enjoy helping our residents with problems and new ideas for their yards.”

The BEST Lawns in Prince William County

The Master Gardeners of Prince William also provide educational programs to help those who want to learn the sound practices involved with creating beautiful landscapes while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. And if your annual gardening project amounts to just keeping a nice lawn, check out the Master Gardener’s BEST Lawns program. 

“Extension Master Gardener volunteers currently make site visits for our BEST Lawns program, and also we do visits that can certify properties for Audubon while we are on site, and help you reduce pesticide and fertilizer use,” said Paulson. “Our Audubon at Home program helps you welcome our native wildlife in your yard and protect them.”  

Owners can certify their homes as Audubon at Home Wildlife Sanctuaries once they identify the wildlife specified in the program. 

For a full list of active Master Gardeners’ programs in Prince William County, Manassas City and Manassas Park, go to pwcva.gov/department/virginia-cooperative-extension/natural-resources. Also, you can call the Master Gardeners of Prince William Help Desk at 703-792-7747, or email mastergardener@pwcgov.org . For a list of all the classes, visit pwcva.gov/department/virginia-cooperative-extension/horticulture-classes. The Master Gardeners also host and record Zoom classes for those who want to learn online anytime. 

Linda Kennedy is a journalist who geeks out on anything involving research. Currently, she’s researching and writing a book about American history and religion. She loves figure skating, walking her dog, antique shops, and exploring libraries and museums. She believes consuming black licorice is an essential part of the human experience. 

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