Best Management Practices for Lawn Care

Healthy, low maintenance glade of upland oaks and Poverty Oatgrass (Danthonia spicata), woodland sedges (Carex spp.), and diminutive wildflowers on the flat, gravel terrace at Arlington Forest Park, Arlington County, VA.  Photo by R.H. Simmons.

Important decisions about how to maintain a lawn area have received a lot of press as ideas  change about the ways we use, and treat, this part of the landscape. Rod Simmons spoke on the subject recently, and has kindly agreed to share answers to some of the follow-up questions from his presentation at the… [Read More]

Landscape Design for Biodiversity Education and Restoration

Gifts for our children: Education and Hope!

Part I.  Hope ~Paying attention to local natural systems teaches us how to bring forth the hidden potential of nature in areas where others have lost hope.  During our ecosystem surveys one of the primary things we find is hope. Although 300 years of landscape degradation have had a profound negative effect on the biodiversity… [Read More]

Wetlands

Overhead shot of Huntley Meadows. Photo courtesy of Wetland Solutions, Inc

I cringe when the word ”Improve”, or “Improvement” is used about land. It’s applied, of course, to describe the process that adapts land for human uses such as farming or construction. This isn’t improvement in any conventional sense of the word. In the 500 or so year history of European use of American land, the… [Read More]

Take A Walk On The Wild Side: Travilah Barrens

Serpentinite boulder outcrop in the stunted old growth forest.

Standing in a cul-de-sac of the development, where every lawn was manicured to within an inch of its struggling life, it was impossible not to think of the song. The crowd gathered for the Annual Solstice Walk on December 20 listened carefully to an explanation of what they were about to see ‘on the other… [Read More]

Finding and Losing Ginseng

Genseng

One of the highlights for me of this year’s VNPS Annual Meeting was the opportunity to explore a colony of ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.). On a walk led by Tom Dierauf, our congenial group explored the plants and geology of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the eastern edge of the Shenandoah Valley. Walking off-trail and… [Read More]

Manage White-Tailed Deer to Protect Our Natural Heritage

Left: Forest with healthy understory   Right: Over-browsed forest with no understory. Photos by Charles Smith

Most residents of Virginia understand the need to change human land use practices to stop or minimize habitat destruction and preserve our native plant communities. An increasing number of people also support combating the spread of non-native invasive species to include problem plant species and insects such as the emerald ash borer beetle which girdles… [Read More]

Hope and Reality for Urban Ecosystems

Matt

Years ago, I served on Maryland’s Plant Reintroduction Task Force, which was largely convened to address the merits, legal ramifications, and biological soundness of reintroducing rare taxa “recently lost from its historic range” or to enhance dwindling populations that remained in their historic natural settings (PRTF 1999). Specifically at the time, this involved a proposal… [Read More]

Landscapes of Memory

Imagine a whole "sea" of these Rose pogonias! (Pogonia ophioglossoides)

Venus Flytraps near my Grandparent’s home in coastal North Carolina were the first plants that caught my interest. Like many kids, I was fascinated by the idea of carnivorous plants, but until reading an article in National Geographic, I had no idea that they lived so close to a place I visited frequently. I begged my parents… [Read More]

Fracking in Virginia: Report from Conservation Chair

gw forest

VNPS Conservation Chair, Marcia Mabee Bell, attended a workshop on June 24 presented jointly by the Virginia Conservation Network and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. Fracking represents huge changes to our state, its economy, and its environmental health; all of Virginia’s citizens need to become informed about this issue. Here is Marcia’s report: The… [Read More]

Dr. Tallamy’s Reply to “What’s all the fuss about native plants?”

Our blog this week is a letter written by Dr. Doug Tallamy, Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, and author of Bringing Nature Home. Written to the New York Times last week: Subject: Misinterpretation/factual errors in article on Gardening for Climate Change Dear Editor: I am… [Read More]