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Visit our Teaching Gardens

The Northern Neck Master Gardeners currently maintain four different Teaching Gardens located throughout the Northern Neck.  These gardens are designed to illustrate ideas, plant varieties, and gardening techniques for various applications.  The Reedville Living Shoreline Teaching Garden showcases plants and techniques useful for maintaining a healthy and beautiful shoreline.  The Northern Neck Farm Museum Vegetable Garden grows selected vegetables and demonstrates techniques most suitable for the Northern Neck and provides fresh vegetables for local food pantries.  The George Washington Birthplace Kitchen Garden focuses on vegetables and herbs grown during colonial times and provides ideas for herb gardens today.  Finally, the Northumberland County Cooperative Extension Office Entry Garden illustrates design ideas and plants to enhance any home entry.

The public can visit these gardens when sponsoring institutions are open to the public (see details below).  Contact us by phone or email us to learn more or to arrange a guided tour for your group.

Reedville Living Shoreline Teaching Garden

Situated on picturesque Cockrell's Creek, the Reedville Living Shoreline Teaching Garden exemplifies an environmentally sound approach to shoreline stabilization using native plants.  The garden was created to address several problems including erosion, invasive plants, and storm water run-off which washed pollutants into the Creek. The careful selection and placement of native shrubs and perennials has resulted in improved water quality, enhanced wildlife and promoted increasingly healthy soils. All plants are readily available commercially and are identified by labels wherever possible.  Design ideas and specific plants for various applications are listed in a brochure (available on the home page of the NNMG website or at the reception desk in the museum).

The garden is always open to the public. (Please note that there are no paved paths at the site and the terrain is sloped).  Master Gardeners are available to answer questions by contacting the Master Gardener Help Desk at the Cooperative Extension Offices, or by email Tours can be arranged for groups by contacting the Help Desk. 

View of the Living Shoreline Garden at the Reedville Fishermen's Museum


View of the Shoreline


The Garden in Summer

Fringetree planted in memory of Susan Tipton


Northern Neck Farm Museum Vegetable Garden
The Northern Neck Master Gardeners have established a teaching garden dedicated to growing vegetables at the museum.  The mission of the garden is to help youngsters and adults understand the basic principles of vegetable gardening, encourage enthusiasm for gardening, demonstrate environmentally-friendly vegetable gardening concepts, and  provide wholesome fresh vegetables and fruits to those in need through local food pantries.
Planning for the year’s growing season begins in early January by deciding what plants to grow, a plant rotation and sequencing schedule, what experiments to conduct, and purchasing seeds.  Seedlings are started in January at Master Gardeners' homes and are ready for planting out beginning in March.  Master Gardeners work in the garden one or two days a week from March through November. During the summer months, children from the Heathsville YMCA come to the garden to learn about gardening through short lessons and hands-on experience, and harvest produce for the food pantries. Master Gardeners continue harvesting produce through mid-November.

The garden demonstrates varieties of vegetables and small fruits that grow well in the Northern Neck and how to get the most out of your garden through inter-planting, crop sequencing, crop rotation and the use of compost.  The garden showcases integrated pest management techniques to decrease reliance on pesticides, such as using buckwheat and a variety of herbs and flowers to attract beneficial insects.  Water-wise techniques, such as collection of rainwater, mulching, and drip irrigation, are also employed. On-site experiments validate best varieties and methods for growing particular crops.

Since the garden was started in 2009, nearly 6,000 pounds of produce have been grown.  In keeping with the mission of the garden, all produce has been donated to local food pantries.

The garden is open to the general public any time the NNMGs are working in the garden or on weekends when the Farm Museum  is open.  The garden is wheelchair-accessible, although there are no paved paths.


From Warsaw,
Take Route 360 to Callao
Turn right to continue on Route 360
Travel about 14 miles
Museum is on the left.

From Kilmarnock,
Take Route 200 north for 13 miles
Turn left onto Route 360
Travel 2.2 miles and museum is on the right.

Farm Musem Vegetable Garden


YMCA Kids Learning about Vegetable Gardening


Weighing the Produce



 George Washington’s Birthplace Kitchen Garden

Gardening was a matter of life and death in the early 1700's. Colonists relied upon their kitchen gardens to provide vegetables and fruits for the family as well as herbs essential for medicines, cosmetics, household products, and fabric dyes. A model of a typical colonial kitchen garden is jointly maintained by the GW Birthplace staff and the Master Gardeners. The present garden reflects a formal design with brick walkways and English boxwood enclosed by a wooden picket fence. It has eight small rectangular herb beds and four large square areas for vegetables and small fruits. Current efforts attempt to restore the beds with plants that would have been grown in George Washington's lifetime (1732-1799).

The NNMGs cultivate the herb gardens, where two beds are devoted to each of four different uses of herbs:  household, culinary, medicinal, and dyeing. Plants considered necessary to the household such as tansy, santolina, yarrow, lavender, barberry, and thyme were used for insect repellants, soaps, and to mask unpleasant odors. Culinary herbs, such as basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, garlic, and sage were used for food preparation and cooking. Plants grown for medicinal use included feverfew, rosemary, calendula, sage, comfrey, fennel, hyssop and rue.  Dyeing herbs, such as woad, common barberry, St. John's Wort, tansy, and madder are grown in the dyeing beds.  Most herbs in the garden today are identified by name stakes.

The gardens are open to the public 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 P.M seven days a week except some holidays. Tours can be arranged through the George Washington Birthplace Visitor Center. More information is available at the Visitor Center or by calling 804-224-1732 ext. 227.  Here is a link for directions to the George Washington Birthplace National Monument.

GW Birthplace Kitchen Garden Layout


Kitchen Garden Paved Paths


Herb Garden Layout


Herb Beds in the Kitchen Garden


Northumberland Extension Office Entry Garden

This garden, located in front of the Northumberland County Extension Office in Heathsville, is the smallest of the Master Gardener teaching gardens.  It is a residential entry garden, open for viewing at any time.  The garden features ideas that homeowners can incorporate in their own gardens.  Water-wise gardening techniques include:  a rain chain (a decorative replacement for a gutter downspout), a rain barrel to collect rainwater run-off from the roof, a soaker hose attached to the rain barrel to conserve water by putting it right at plant roots, and mulch to minimize weeds and conserve water in the soil.  Diverse plants create a welcoming design for a home entry, year-round interest, and provide wildlife food and habitat. Signs explain various features and their usefulness.  The garden is handicapped-accessible.  Questions concerning the garden can be answered by visiting the Northumberland County Cooperative Extension Office weekdays or contacting the Help Desk by e-mail. The Cooperative Extension Office is located on Rt. 360 in Heathsville next to the Public Library.

Northumberland Extension Office


Entry Garden next to Front Porch


Rain Barrel and Potted Plants in Spring


Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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