Merrifield Garden Center


entrance to the garden center
      While visiting relatives in northern Virginia, I strolled through Merrifield Garden Center.  This is the garden center where I bought most of my trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals when I lived in that area.  It is a peaceful oasis in the midst of a rapidly growing suburban area.

     It covers several acres and carries almost everything a gardener needs or wants.  The center also holds classes throughout the year.  Come along with me and enjoy a walk through the garden center in the following photos.

annual area

sun perennials


shade perennials

tree section




evergreen section

garden statues and birdbaths




watering cans

     There is also an area with several kinds of mulch, rock and gravel, a tropical greenhouse, and a large store where you can purchase everything from gardening tools to gloves. They will deliver mulch, rock, soil, and sand by the truckload if you need it.  The center also has several landscape designers that will help you plan your landscape. You can get an education just by walking through the center. It's a great place.

An Incredibly Early Spring


     I have been visiting relatives in  northern Virginia for the past two weeks, and what beautiful and early spring they are having!  Everything is in bloom weeks earlier than normal.  It has been in the 70's and 80's.

     The crab apple and cherry trees have been blooming for a week, as have the magnolias.  The dogwood trees are just starting to bloom.  The trees are leafing out, and shrubs are flowering.  The tulips are blooming.  The daffodils are done already! 

     Northern Virginia is always so gorgeous in the spring.  Enjoy the spring I'm experiencing  in the following photos I have included.

saucer magnolia

tree leafing out

Otto Luyken laurel shrub


     Lovely isn't it?  Wouldn't it be fantastic to live with this beauty all year?  Nothing can compare to the awakening of nature in the spring.

Heat Zone Map


American Horticultural Society Heat Zone Map

     Although nearly all American reference books, gardening magazines, nursery catalogs, and seed packets describe plants using the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant Hardiness Zone Map, the impact of heat on plants should also be considered.

     The American Horticultural Society publishes a Heat Zone Map.  There are 12 zones on the map that indicate the average number of days each year a zone experiences "heat days" or temperatures over 86 F (30 C).  At 86 F plants begin to suffer damage.  Roots may stop growing, flower buds may wither, leaves may droop or appear white or brown because chlorophyll may disappear.

     The Meteorological Evaluation Services company (which was also involved in the creation of the USDA Hardiness Zone Map) analyzed daily high temperatures recorded between 1974 and 1995.  Only National Weather service stations that recorded maximum temperatures for at least 12 years were included to create the map. Weather stations at or near mountain peaks in sparsely populated areas were not included.

     I found the map inaccurate for my area.  I typed in my zip code in the heat zone finder at  It put my area in heat zone 8, which means 90 to 120 days over 86 F (30 C).  On average here in the desert we experience 186 days over 86 F, which would put my area in zone 11.  The map was published in 1997, so it probably needs updating. 


Ecosystem Activites


forest in South Carolina

     One of the overall themes of the book The New American Landscape, that I have recently read, is the numerous jobs that ecosystems perform.  To give an example, here is a list the book provided of the many things trees and bushes in a forested area do at once: 

  • building humus via leaf litter,
  • breaking heavy soil with roots,
  • catching rain with leaves and funneling water towards the trunk,
  • holding soil in place with roots
  • cooling the forest by its shade,

northern cardinal
  • sheltering birds
  • sequestering carbon
  • sprouting seedlings

variable cracker butterfly

  • nurturing insect
  • exhaling oxygen
  • supporting hundreds os species, directly and indirectly

American Mountain Ash fruit

  • producing fruit

     The book argues that this is why nature's designs show resilience and abundance, and that our gardens need to behave like ecosystems.

It's Spring Here


Flower Garden

     It is definitely spring in the desert.  It is supposed to be in the mid to low 80's the rest of the week, and the flower garden is filling in nicely.  The petunias and pansies are mounding nicely.


      The gazanias are bursting into bloom.

Tropicana rose

     The roses have many buds and a few open blossoms.

bush morning glory

     The bush morning glories have just begun to blossom.  Most just have a few flowers, but this one is fairly full.

bougainvillea two weeks ago

bougainvillea today

     As I walked around the yard, I noticed how full the bougainvillea has become since two weeks ago.

hopseed bush flowers

jojoba bush blossoms

                          Two weeks ago the hopseed bushes flowered as well as the jojoba bushes.

     Soon the lantana, yellow bells, red yucca, and the palo verde tree will blossom.  I wonder how fast the summer heat will arrive.  Last year we had our first 100 F day April 1.