Commentary, Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Saturday was a beautiful day for outdoor activities, and the community didn’t disappoint.  Hundreds of residents turned out for Culmore Community Day, held in the parking lot at the Woodrow Wilson Branch Library, for live entertainment, children’s activities, prizes and lots of county services.  You could test for differences in the taste of tap water and bottled water, visit with uniformed public safety personnel and get a free ticket for prize drawings.  Hidden Oaks Nature Center hosted a booth with an albino corn snake, ladybugs, tadpoles and a live toad.  Wherever one turned, there was an interesting booth or activity for children and adults alike.

The same afternoon, and within walking distance of the library, the Fairfax County Park Authority hosted the formal ribbon-cutting to open the Boyd A. and Charlotte M. Hogge Park on Glen Carlyn Road.  The new six-acre park includes walking trails, a children’s playground with a soft “floor” instead of the traditional wood chips, a half-basketball court, two pickleball courts  and the most beautiful raised-bed garden plots in Fairfax County!  The raised beds are encircled by a tall black metal fence to keep out deer and unauthorized visitors.  Each six by nine foot raised bed has a blend of 50 percent native Virginia topsoil and 50 percent organic matter, and is contaminant-free.  Each raised bed can accommodate two gardeners; bright pink ribbons demarcated the plots already leased.  The wooden boxes are made from Wolmanized Outdoor Wood, which is copper-treated to be safe and economical for use in vegetable and flower raised bed gardens.  

Bluestone paths between and around the garden beds are six feet wide, and can accommodate wheelchairs and a variety of garden equipment.  On Saturday, a young woman in a wheelchair was busy planting her first herb plants and had measured off the rest of her plot for other crops.  A demonstration garden by the Fairfax Master Gardeners was already planted with French radishes large enough to harvest, along with snow peas — which will be replaced by beans later in the season — and onions.  Water taps at both ends of the garden plots augment rainfall, and a large shed holds larger tools for the gardeners’ use. All a gardener has to bring are gloves, small tools like trowels and the seeds or plants.  Gardeners who live nearby don’t even have to use a vehicle (although there is a nice new parking lot accessible from Magnolia Avenue).  Go to for more information and to register for a plot.  You must be a Fairfax County resident to participate.  Vegetable Garden Plant Clinics (free) will be held at Hogge Park from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, June 10, July 15, August 19, and September 23, 2023.  

Hopefully, the weather next Saturday, May 13, will be a repeat, as the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, hosts an Open House from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  Indoor and outdoor features include police and K-9 demonstrations, the fire department’s “Jaws of Life” junk car, and the Crime Solvers program.  The Office of Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Department, Department of Family Services, and Park Authority are among several other participating county agencies.  The Open House is free, and fun for the whole family.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at


  • Penny Gross

    Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at