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Earth Sangha seeks Volunteers Six Days a Week

6100 Cloud Dr. Springfield, VA
Sundays- Fridays
9 am to Noon
Must sign up here.

Just in the first 5 weeks since Earth Sangha opened up its Wild Plant Nursery for the Spring season, they’ve supplied over 325 curbside pickup and Self-Service Sunday orders.

As they send out their local-ecotype native plants to their permanent homes, they’re just as busy growing new ones to take their places. Of course, these take some time to get ready: to sow the seed, pot seedlings up, or divide overcrowded pots.

Volunteers can help with a wide variety of tasks and do not need to have any previous experience!

Beat the summer heat with a native plant shade garden

Photo by Plant NOVA Natives

They say shade gardens are the gardens of the future, since it will be too hot to spend much time in the sun. That’s pretty much the case already on most summer days. Although sunny butterfly gardens still provide hours of entertainment, a shady place to relax or play in your yard is a welcome addition. An added bonus is that gardening is a lot easier in the shade, because the weeds grow much more slowly.
 
There are plenty of native flowers available to provide color in a shade garden. You can see examples of them on the shade garden page of the Plant NOVA Natives website. Many of those species also make excellent ground covers. For example, Woodland Phlox and Golden Ragwort are evergreen and spread to make a mat, with blue and yellow flowers respectively in the spring. April and May are a particularly lively time in the shade, as spring ephemerals such as Virginia Bluebell and Spring Beauty pop up and bloom before the trees and shrubs leaf out, then disappear when the shade gets too heavy. They make perfect companion plants for the ferns and sedges that provide a cooling backdrop all summer long. Contrasting foliage textures create visual interest even without flowers.
 
Why choose native plants? A plant is native to our environment if it evolved within the local food web and has the intricate relationship with animals and other plants that this implies. Plants such as turf grass and many of the ornamentals that were brought here after the arrival of the Europeans are nearly useless (and sometimes actually harmful) from an ecosystem perspective. Choosing native plants allows us to fit into the ecosystem instead of displacing it.
 
Most native plants can be planted any time of year that the ground is not frozen or saturated. Spring is of course the most popular time for gardening (though fall is even better.) As consumer interest has grown, conventional garden centers have been providing an ever-increasing variety of native plants. In Northern Virginia, 22 garden centers have red stickers on their native plants, placed there by Plant NOVA Natives volunteers, so all you have to do is walk down the aisles and look for the stickers. In addition, several local garden centers sell only native plants, which gives you the best selection of all.
 
In some cases, the first step toward creating a shade garden will be to create the shade. A glaring hot lawn is uninviting and can be remedied by simply planting native trees.  Since most trees require full sun to grow, an empty lawn is the perfect location for a grove of trees that will beautify your property while reducing air conditioning costs. Underplanting the trees with shrubs will provide homes and food for the birds.

Earth Day for HOAs: Native Plants for the Home Garden, webinar April 21st

Photo by Jennifer Smirnoff

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
7 pm
Registration required.

Jennifer Smirnoff will show you the transformation she has made in her yard over time and tell you how making small changes can have a BIG IMPACT. Her talk focuses on how to get started on making your property a more welcoming place for wildlife, no matter how large or small. Hosted by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.

Questions: Contact info@loudounwildlife.org.

The Southeast’s Diverse Flora: Discoveries, Conservation & Identification with Alan Weakley webinar, April 8th

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) ; photo by Margaret Chatham

Thursday, April 8, 2021
7:30 – 9 pm
Register here.

Alan Weakley is a plant taxonomist, community ecologist, and conservationist specializing in the Southeastern United States. He holds a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from Duke University. He has worked as botanist and ecologist for the N.C. Natural Heritage Program, and as regional and chief ecologist for The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe. He is currently Director of the University of North Carolina Herbarium, a department of the N.C. Botanical Garden, and teaches as adjunct faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill and at the Highlands Biological Station.

Dr. Weakly is author of the Flora of the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, and co-author (with Chris Ludwig and Johnny Townsend) of the Flora of Virginia, which has received five awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Award for Conservation.

Hosted by Virginia Native Plant Society, Potowmack Chapter.

Attracting Bees and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants, March 6th

Agapostemon photo by Heather Holm

Saturday, March 6, 2021
11 am
Fee: $10
Register here.

Most insects have a positive impact in our landscapes. Native plants can be selected to attract specific bees and beneficial insects including predatory and parasitic wasps, beetles, flies, true bugs, and lacewings. Learn about the predator-prey relationships of these flower-visiting beneficial insects and how they help keep problem insect populations in balance. The life cycles, diversity, and nesting habitat of native bees will also be covered along with examples of native plants for different site conditions.

The program will be presented by Heather Holm, biologist, pollinator conservationist, and award-winning author.

This is a joint venture with Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and the American Horticultural Society.

2021 Spring and Fall Landscaping with Virginia Natives Webinar Series, Starts March 5th

Plant Virginia Natives partners are collaborating to offer a series of 12 webinars – 6 this spring and 6 this fall.  The webinars will guide you through the why and how to turn your home garden into a beautiful retreat for your family and a native habitat for birds and other wildlife. 

The series kicks-off on Friday, March 5 at 6:30 pm with an engaging presentation by Dr. Douglas Tallamy, renowned author of Nature’s Best Hope. Dr. Tallamy’s photography and message of hope is not to be missed!

Sign up for all 12 webinars for just $10! Learn more and register here.

Mow Less, Grow More webinar, March 7th

Photo by Eliza Diamond on Unsplash

Sunday, March 7, 2021
2 – 3:30 pm
Register here.

The Friends of Mason Neck State Park will host a special program, “Mow Less, Grow More.” Their speaker will be Tami Sheiffer, the coordinator of Fairfax County Park Authority’s “Watch the Green Grow” education and outreach initiative.

Learn how you can protect neighboring parks and natural habitat through your yard care by mowing less and growing more. Tami will discuss how to use native plants to expand wildlife corridors and stream buffers as well as help solve landscaping problems such as areas of erosion or poor drainage where grass will not grow.

The program is free, thanks to the generosity of the members and donors of the Friends of Mason Neck State Park. Registration is required, so they can send you the Zoom link for the program.

New Web Tool Helps NoVa Wildlife Gardeners

Article by FMN Juan Gonzalez and Megan Agosti, originally published in Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Habitat Herald, republished with permission

Starting a native plant garden always begins with the same set of questions — “What plants work for my space? Which plants are most beneficial and likely to attract wildlife?” For the past few years, Northern Virginia gardeners would start their journey by referencing resources like Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Planting for Wildlife in Northern Virginia, a thorough book providing information on various native trees, shrubs, flowers, and more. This past year, two volunteers endeavored to make this information even more accessible by creating an interactive web tool for Northern Virginia’s residents. In collaboration with Loudoun Wildlife staff and volunteers, we are pleased to announce the Northern Virginia Wildlife Gardening Database located at www.novawildlifegarden.net.

This web tool provides users with Planting for Wildlife’s full catalogue in a digital format for easy filtering to answer even the most specific questions. Users can use a search function or filter results with seven different plant characteristics, including popular questions like preferred light, soil moisture, bloom month, and wildlife benefits. Favorite plants can be saved in the Saved Plant List which can generate a report summarizing your selections. You can plan for year-round interest, find deer-resistant plants, and start your dream butterfly garden with the Northern Virginia Wildlife Gardening Database.

Filtered table example

To explore Northern Virginia Wildlife Gardening Database’s full catalogue of native plants, go to www.novawildlifegarden.net and select the Plant Library tab. Select the plant type you are interested in from the drop-down menu to begin your search. Here you can filter your selection by specifying preferred light source, moisture level, bloom months/color, plant height/spread, and wildlife benefits. Further refine your selection by utilizing the search bar to make further queries (for example, “fragrant,” “deer resistant,” “hummingbird”).
Once filtered, the table provides additional context for each plant. Users can see the plant’s description and learn more about the wildlife benefits of each. Get detailed information by clicking on scientific names to view the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center entry for each plant. Explore the Glossary tab to define common terms used throughout the database.

Saved plant table example

Users can save their favorite plants using the Saved Plant List feature. To save a plant, click its respective row and then the green Save Selected button on the bottom left. This feature allows for multiple selections, so pick as many as you would like. See your list by navigating to the Saved Plants tab. When ready, generate your report by clicking the blue Generate Report button in the Saved Plants tab. This report summarizes your plant selection and generates tables for the various filters found in the web tool. Use these tables to review your selection or ensure year-round interest in your garden.

Loudoun Wildlife hopes you find this new web tool useful. It has been developed and is maintained by volunteers Juan Gonzalez and Megan Agosti. For any comments or questions please contact them at novawildlifegarden@gmail.com.

Life in your Wild Garden webinar, February 11th

Laura Beaty, photo courtesy of VNPS

Thursday, February 11, 2021
7:30-9 pm
Register here

Growing numbers of gardeners are incorporating native plants into their landscapes in an effort to mitigate the growing loss of pollinators and leafeaters. This loss is global and compromises interactions in natural habitats worldwide. Here at home, many gardeners have been surprised by what they are observing in their wild gardens. Join the Virginia Native Plant Society to see inside a wild garden — then look deeper into yours. Presented by Laura Beaty.

Laura Beaty has been working in the great outdoors since she was old enough to hold a rake. She earned a degree in history followed by a degree in horticulture, and worked nearly 20 years for the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the National Parks Conservation Association.

Laura is VNPS Horticulture Chair and serves as the propagation chair at the native plant beds at Green Spring Gardens. She is a popular speaker about native plants to Master Gardener candidates at Green Spring Park, local garden clubs, and occasionally, propagation workshops at the chapter’s beds.

Laura is converting her own property to a “modified meadow,” which includes some trees and shrubs—all native plants. She hopes that her plant installations will soon become easy maintenance. But as all gardeners know, a garden is a life-long labor of love.

Back to our Roots: Leveraging Native Plants to Restore the Environment, GreenScapes Symposium, February 19th

Photo (c) by Barbara J. Saffir

Friday, February 19, 2021
9:30am – 4pm
Early Bird registration fee of $45 ends on Friday, January 8th
Standard fee is $55
Register using this link ActiveMontgomery.org (Course #87621) or call 301-962-1470.

Join industry experts as they tackle the native vs. non-native plant debate: Is a native plant-only prescription necessary? Under what conditions should non-native plants be incorporated, and what are the risks of using cultivars? Join the conversation as experts assess the scope of environmental benefits that native ecosystems create, such as decreasing pollution and fighting climate change.

They’ll explore the latest strategies to combat pollinator population collapse, considering key factors like pollination syndromes, specialist pollinators, plant genetics and floral balance.
Speakers will demonstrate the latest tools to assess the sustainability of sites, including best practices for evidence-based designs that maximize the ecological, social and economic benefits of native landscapes.

Key note: Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard, Doug Tallamy, Professor & Chair, Department of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware

View full Symposium details.

About GreenScapes
The GreenScapes Symposium, formerly Green Matters, is an annual program sponsored by Brookside Gardens since 2004. The symposium will continue to concentrate attention on the intersection of horticulture and environmental issues Environmental stewardship is a core value of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), Brookside Gardens’ parent organization. As such, we strive to provide timely information and viable solutions to environmental challenges.