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Posted March 20, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Museum to offer the basics of gardening

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By Stacey Keenan - Daily Staff Correspondent

WINCHESTER -- There's nothing worse than moving into a beautiful new home with picture-perfect landscaping that looks like it jumped right off the pages of a fancy home magazine, only to witness the speedy demise of those beautiful plants because no one in the family knows how to take care of them.

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley's gardens and grounds manager Mary Stickley hopes to change that. Her upcoming Gardening Basics seminar, which will be held March 28 at the museum, will introduce participants to the essential things new gardeners need to know.

"A lot of people get intimidated. I want them to feel, first of all, that they can do this. I want everybody to be a gardener," Stickley says. "A lot of people just do the bare minimum because they're afraid of failure. I want to give them some ways to help keep them from failing and to have a gorgeous garden."

The idea behind the seminar, she adds, is to teach beginning gardeners how to garden with some basics, to help keep people from getting discouraged.

"They'll learn a little bit of everything," Stickley says.

The day will begin with lecture-style sessions, with the first session focusing on learning about soils. The second session will focus on plants, and how to choose the right ones.

"[People] always go to the garden center and pick the closest ones that are pretty. But people get discouraged really easily because they stick a plant in the ground and then [the plant's] not happy. We'll talk about how to pick the right plants for garden design, so it looks good in your garden," says Stickley.

After a lunch break, the third session will feature a discussion about landscape design, including easy tips to help make any garden look good. Other topics that will be discussed include watering, mulch, pruning, and ongoing care and maintenance.

The fourth session will take participants outside, where they will explore the 6 acres of the Glen Burnie Gardens. The museum's garden spaces include the formal Grand Allée, the intimate Pleached Allée, two crab apple Allées, the small Hidden Garden, the garden of Asian influences, the Water Garden, the Pink Pavilion and Fountain Courtyard, the Boxwood Parterre and Knot Garden, the Vegetable Garden, the Perennial Garden, the Rose Garden and the Herb Garden.

Stickley will not only lead a guided tour of the gardens, but she will also use the gardens as a classroom to expand on the ideas discussed during the indoor lectures.

"Down in the gardens, they'll actually see pruning, soils, and garden design. They'll hear it in the [lecture session] and then go see it in the garden," says Stickley. "They'll see it all in real life. I drive it all home."

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley's Gardening Basics seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 28. Seating is limited, and registration by Wednesday is required. The cost is $40 for museum members, and $50 for non-members. Lunch is included. For more information or to register, call 662-1473, ext. 222 or e-mail registration@ShenandoahMuseum.org

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