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Recovering Native Plant Diversity in the Piedmont, webinar, November 15th

Photo courtesy of VNPS

Sunday, November 15, 2020
1 pm
Register here.

Join the Virginia Native Plant Society (Potowmack Chapter) for their annual meeting. The speaker at the event will be Dr. Andrea Weeks of George Mason University. She will be discussing her research project, Recovering Native Plant Diversity in the Piedmont, that aims to initiate a long-term floristic study of Gilbert’s Corner in Loudoun County to support ongoing habitat restoration at the site – and to educate the public about the importance of conserving local biodiversity. Dr. Weeks is the recipient of the inaugural Mary Pockman Memorial Research Grant from VNPS.

Dr. Andrea Weeks

Dr. Weeks’ research focuses on the systematics, historical biogeography, and evolution of flowering plants, particularly those within the frankincense and myrrh family, Burseraceae. Dr. Weeks is also director of the Ted R. Bradley Herbarium at George Mason University and is engaged in making this valuable resource of information about the Virginia flora available to the public via the internet.

More on Dr. Weeks’ research here.

VNPS Potowmack Chapter End of Season Plant Sales Reduced Prices

Photo by Laura Beaty

The best time of year to plant is Fall. The soil is warm and the cooler air temperatures help new plantings overcome transplant shock, roots have time to grow before the cold sets in — and even longer before plants will start to grow again in the spring — when early spring bloomers will sustain early pollinators if planted now.

Due to the pandemic, the Potowmack chapter of Virginia Native Plant Society has not been able to hold their in-person plant sales this year. They count on selling plants that don’t over-winter well in pots. In order to make room and to find homes for our plants, they have decided to have an end of season sale so their loyal customers can enjoy our bounty.
 
All of their potted plants may be purchased, but they have reduced the price of 24 species to $3 each or 2 for $5. In addition, they are offering 11 other species at the rate of 1 free plant for each plant you purchase. They have sale prices for Milkweed, White Wood Aster, Great Blue Lobelia, Wild Bergamot, Orange Coneflower and New England Aster, to name a few.
 
The sales prices will be in effect for the remainder of the season. They are open for sales every Wednesday morning in October from 10 am until 1 pm until we close down the beds for the winter.
 
They have also marked down almost all their grasses, sedges and rushes, and many of their small trees are FREE, so here’s a good opportunity to give them a try! Come see what they have!
 
Please bring a box to carry your purchases home.

They will happily accept empty pot donations in the 1- to 2-gallon size. 
Cash or check only, please. Their sales take place behind the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA.
 
They observe Fairfax County COVID-19 Guidelines.

Help Science Fight Wavyleaf Basketgrass

Can you help University of Richmond biologist Dr. Carrie Wu collect samples of invasive wavyleaf basketgrass (Oplismenus undulatifolius) in your area? Dr. Wu is conducting a research project to help understand the genetic structure of this invasive plant in order to help control its spread across the Mid-Atlantic region. She is the recipient of two previous Virginia Native Plant Society Research Grants to study wavyleaf basketgrass.

Would you be able to collect several basketgrass samples as described below and send them to Dr. Wu by postal mail? Please contact her directly with any questions.

This summer, Dr. Wu is seeking additional collections from as many locations as possible across the introduced range. The goal is to have 10-15 individual plants collected from large populations when possible (with individual plants at least 3 feet apart from one another). Smaller populations would have a reduced number of plants sampled. Observations from several folks suggest that wavyleaf seems to be setting seed earlier than several years ago, so if you encounter seeds later this summer, those would be greatly appreciated too.
Tissue sampling is pretty straight forward, especially if the plants aren’t too wet. Dr. Wu can send a detailed protocol if requested. In brief, record collector and site information, including GPS coordinates. Collect at least 5-8 fully expanded leaves (or entire stalks!) per plant into coin envelopes/regular envelopes/paper bags. Please keep leaves from each individual plant in separate bags/wrappings. If storing for an extended time, place filled envelopes in a plastic bag with a little silica drying gel (or the “Do Not Eat” packets that come in lots of items). When sampling multiple plants in population, try to separate collections by at least 1 meter. Mail them to Dr. Wu. She is happy to offset shipping costs as needed.

If you are able to collect tissue, or would be willing to have Dr. Wu access sites where you know the plants are growing, please let her know. She can provide more detailed sampling instructions as needed.
And of course, please share this request widely with colleagues who you think might also be able to help!

Carrie Wu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Coordinator, Environmental Studies Program
University of Richmond
138 UR Drive
Richmond, VA 23173
cwu@richmond.edu
Office: A114 Gottwald Science Center
Phone: (804) 289-8712

Native Bee Species Ebb and Flow with Native Plants Bloom: A Year’s Calendar with Sam Droege, watch webinar

Zoom Video Conference
Held Thursday, 14 May 2020
Watch recorded presentation

All of our nearly 500 species of native bees are dependent on pollen to feed their young. No flowers, no bees. Like flowers, each bee species has its season. During a bee’s flight time they are often dependent on the pollen from only a small group of plants, ignoring the rest.

What you plant has consequences for the bees you support on your property. Travel through a year in the region, tracking the flowers and their bees, or…the bees and their flowers (depending on your point of view!)

Sam Droege has been spent most of his career at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. He has coordinated the North American Breeding Bird Survey Program, developed the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, the BioBlitz, Cricket Crawl, and FrogwatchUSA programs and worked on the design and evaluation of monitoring programs. Currently he is developing an inventory and monitoring program for native bees, online identification guides for North American bees at www.discoverlife.org, and with Jessica Zelt reviving the North American Bird Phenology Program. His group maintains high resolution photographs of insects and other macro natural history objects at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usgsbiml/.

Continuing education credit available for master naturalists.

Piecing Together Nature’s Puzzle with Alonso Abugattas, March 12th–CANCELLED!

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria VA
Thursday, 12 March 2020
7:30 – 9 pm

Nature is intricately interconnected. While we certainly don’t know how all the pieces fit, we can have some informative fun trying to put them together. Virginia Native Plant Society, Potowmack Chapter presents an interesting look at how pieces of the “nature puzzle” fit together, focusing on our native flora and wildlife of course. Get a peek at just how interdependent are plants, fungi, insects, wildlife, and even humans can be and try to piece together some parts of our local nature puzzle. Take a look at host plants, oligolectic bees, ethnobotany, and other wildlife interactions. You may not look at our natural world the same way again. 

Alonso Abugattas is a well-known local naturalist, environmental educator, and storyteller in the Washington, DC area. He is the Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County Parks, VA and the longtime Co-Chair for the Beltway Chapter of Region 2 of the National Association for Interpretation, the professional association for naturalists, historians, and docents. He was awarded their Regional Outstanding Interpretive Manager Award in 2018 and the national Master Interpretive Manager in 2018. He has been trained as a Master Gardener, was made an honorary Virginia Master Naturalist for his role in starting 2 chapters, and serves as an instructor for both.

Alonso is a co-founder of the Washington Area Butterfly Club and has held several offices (including President) for the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society. With numerous mentions and appearances on television, radio, and the press, he invites you to check out his NAI Interpretive Section Thomas Say Media Award winning FaceBook Group “Capital Naturalist”, his Capital Naturalist Blog, @CapNaturalist on Twitter, and the Capital Naturalist YouTube Channel.

Getting to Know and Love Your Ferns, Feb.13th

A talk by Kit Sheffield

Green Spring Gardens 
4603 Green Spring Road 
Alexandria, VA 22312 
Thursday, February 13, 2020
7:30 – 9:00 pm 

Please join the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society for a talk by Kit Sheffield, who will answer the following
questions: What is a fern and what makes it different from other organisms? What is a “fern ally”? How do ferns grow and reproduce? How can you tell ferns apart from each other?

Kit Sheffield is a Virginia Master Naturalist who has led fern-related hikes for the Virginia Native Plant Society, the Audubon Naturalist Society, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Earth’s Climate: Present, Past, and Future, VNPS Annual Workshop, Mar. 14th

Piedmont Virginia Community College
V. Earl Dickinson Building Theater, 444 College Dr., Charlottesville VA
Saturday, 14 March 2020
9 am – 3:15 pm

Many are concerned about climate change and no longer need to be convinced that it is real. But we can always learn something new about the study of climate and its changes and impacts on Earth’s ecosystems. This Workshop will focus on climate changes at different periods of time, how it might relate to our current climate, and inform our thoughts about today’s changes.

The speakers this year will cover more than 50 million years of Earth’s climate history. From the present state of our coastal ecosystems, to climate perturbations during the historic period, to the glacial ages and their influence on eastern forests, and finally to the fossil record far in the past, we will explore environmental changes in our world.

More information, workshop brochure and registration here. Brought to you by the Virginia Native Plant Society.

Herbivory: Why It Is Important that Plants Get Eaten, Jan. 9th

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria VA
Thursday, 9 January 2020
7:30 pm

Please join the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society for a talk by Charles Smith, to kick off their lecture series this year. Charles will discuss native plants and their role as the foundation of ecosystems, coevolution with other organisms and importance for maintaining biodiversity.

Charles is a native of Arlington, VA, a naturalist and ecologist with 27 years of experience in natural resource inventory, planning, management and monitoring. He is currently branch chief of Fairfax County Stormwater Planning Division, focusing on stream and natural area restoration. He worked for 17 years for the Fairfax County Park Authority, mostly in natural resource management, and five years for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. Charles is a US Army veteran, a board member of the Virginia Native Plant Society, a certified Ecological Resotration Practitioner and is an instructor for three chapters of the Virginia Master Naturalists.

VNPS programs are free and open to the public.
No reservations are necessary for lectures.

Author Lecture: Dr. Doug Tallamy, Feb. 23rd

Manassas Park Community Center
99 Adams Drive, Manassas Park, VA
Sunday, 23 February 2020
3 – 5pm

Renowned entomologist and ecologist Doug Tallamy will present Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society February’s Author Lecture. Dr. Tallamy will have his new book available for signing, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. (Timber Press, available February 4, 2020).

Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 95 research publications and has taught insect related courses for 39 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers’ Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014.  Among his awards are the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, and the 2018 AHS B.Y. Morrison Communication Award.

Registration is requested and carpools are recommended.
For more information, contact the Extension Master Gardener Horticulture Help Line at 703.792.7747 or email master_gardener@pwcgov.org or Nancy Vehrs at nvehrs1@yahoo.com.

Using Service Learning and Citizen Science as a Meaningful Context to Teach Plant Science, a talk Nov. 17th

Green Springs Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA
Sunday, 17 November 2019
1 – 4pm

Join the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society at their annual meeting with speaker Dr. Peter Mecca.

Dr. Mecca will describe some of the science-learning opportunities available to students at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia. For example, every fall and spring, Mason students assist National Park Service Staff at Shenandoah National Park to remove invasive plants along the Appalachian Trail. In addition, Mason students are leaders in urban agriculture through traditional gardening (raised beds) and alternative gardening (hydroponics, FarmBot) methods. The presenter will share information about a potential new learning opportunity for students – a citizen science experience in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Peter Mecca has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Ecology from Pennsylvania State University, an M.A. degree in Environmental Biology from Hood College, and a B.S. degree in Secondary Education – Biology from Penn State. He has served as a public school teacher, science education consultant, administrator, and a university faculty member. Prior to his current position, Dr. Mecca was the Instructional Systems Specialist for Science with the U.S. Department of Defense Schools. He is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Virginia Association of Science Teachers, the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, and the Council of State Science Supervisors and was awarded the Conservation Education Teacher of the Year by the VA Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.