Into The Swamp at Cypress Bridge

Cypress arch  - skeletons of the bald cypress, (Taxodium distichum)

Champion Trees, Notable Trees, and Just Plain Wonderful Trees at Cypress Bridge Swamp! We waited for over a year and we finally made it to the 380 acre Cypress Bridge Swamp Natural Area Preserve!  We  had been disappointed when our trip during the 2014 annual meeting was postponed due to a canoe-supply problem.  And then… [Read More]

Journey To A Native Yard

Donna and Mark preferred a more naturalistic style rather than formal one. They used hardscape features to bring a sense of order into the design.

Thirty four years ago there was not a single tree, and no lawn, on the site where Donna Murphy’s new house was sitting. She knew very little about native plants at the time, and was planning on  establishing a traditional lawn, with  perhaps a vegetable garden for some fresh food and a good experience for… [Read More]

Generation Y Won’t Garden Because of Fear of Failure?

Millennials are becoming parents now. Who will gently lead them in?

Millennials, especially the Gen Y batch, are proving a hard target for the nursery industry to get a bead on. They have a fear of failure, said a recent article written for professional growers. Furthermore, the article states that Gen Yers were urged to their best in school every day, (surprise!) to beat the competition;… [Read More]

Report From A Tagalong Spouse

A 1700s Irish farm at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. Photo used with their permission.

Hosting the VNPS Annual Meeting at the Frontier Culture Museum was a great choice. If you haven’t been to the museum, it consists of about twelve exhibits of typical homesteads, (houses, barns, fields, etc.), of the people who originally inhabited North America, including the American Indians and those people who immigrated to the Atlantic coast… [Read More]

Rescue, Reclaim, Restore: Annual Meeting 2015

Nancy Vehrs leads quarterly in dairy barn - milked for all it was worth!

In the unusual setting of a dairy barn, VNPS President, Nancy Vehrs, opened the 2015 Annual Meeting in Staunton with the quarterly gathering of the Board. After the traditional business session, (the nuts and bolts that keep VNPS running), Rod Walker, from the Blue Ridge Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) was on hand… [Read More]

Trees Bring People Together

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Last Saturday five concerned groups joined forces to show their appreciation for a small park in the city of Alexandria, a park where the biggest shade trees are in danger of disappearing. VNPS members were joined by Tree Stewards, Master Naturalists, members of the local Gladiators basketball team, the West Alexandria Rotary Club, and the… [Read More]

Native Moths, Native Plants, Natural Connections

The Buck Moth, (Hemileuca
maia), feeds primarily on oak species.

My interest in natural history started with birds – their form, color, shapes, and diversity fascinated me! But then in 1981 I got my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and that was all she wrote! Plants were my new love –  like birds, there was form, color, shape, and diversity; unlike birds, they kept still! I could… [Read More]

How To Start A Native Plant Garden

A sterile, resource gobbling  lawn transformed into a beautiful yard that attracts birds and butterflies!

How do I start? Many people wrestle with this question after deciding they want to transform their existing yard into a native plant garden. When Susan and Jim Graham first made that decision they described their existing yard as “ mostly turf grass with an azalea mustache;”  a look  typical of many of the landscapes… [Read More]

The Right Kind of Pollinator Garden

Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) in the “pollinator garden” planters at the entrance to Tarleton Park in the City of
Alexandria, Virginia.  This historically known species in Alexandria was reintroduced to its original habitat and general location
in the City from locally sourced and propagated stock.  Photo by Sue Dingwell.

A couple of reminders, if folks will, regarding pollinator gardens, especially those to attract and host Monarch butterflies: The overarching principle for all ecological restoration plantings (i.e., those involving the correct use of native plants in parks, waterways, and natural areas) is to “Do No Harm” to the native flora, communities, wildlife, and natural landscape… [Read More]

Specialist Bees Need Special Plants

Sam Droege talks with audience before his presentation.

Sam Droege, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Biologist, and a bee expert who has studied native bees all around the world, gave a presentation on specialist bees and the plants that support them at the Arlington Library on May 11, 2015. The talk was sponsored jointly by the VNPS Potowmack Chapter, and the Arlington Regional… [Read More]