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]

Hiwassee: A Floral Delight!

bridge (1)

The New River Trail provided a welcome dose of colorful spring flowers for the members of our New River Chapter and their friends last month. This trail is is actually a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way paralleling the scenic and historic New River. Old rail beds make gentle hiking and the… [Read More]

Adventures In Plant ID

A member of the Fabaceae family, Calliandra eriophylla, or fairy duster. This Arizona native was identified through the presence of the recognizable family characteristics.

Every chair was taken and extras had to be brought in for the first of the Piedmont Chapter’s Winter Speakers Series this afternoon in Marshall, VA. An appreciative audience paid close attention as the speaker, Richard Stromberg, revealed some of the tricks of his trade during his talk: ‘Adventures in Plant Identification: Tools, Tips, and… [Read More]

The Habitat Game

Children cooperating to earn points on The Green Board

Games are a great way to get people to learn, and the Piedmont Chapter has invented a cool (tested!) activity to teach the concept that our choices in landscaping make a difference, and why. This article first appeared in the Chapter’s Winter newsletter, The Leaflet. We’re happy to have the opportunity to spread the idea… [Read More]

Gifts for Gardeners and Native Plant Lovers

Happy gardeners have good tools!

  Just in time! Ideas for the most desperate among us, the ones who haven’t yet crossed even the first gift off our list. You know who you are. On Black Friday you were either out transplanting just one more shrub, or you were off wandering on some leafy trail noticing which trees had already… [Read More]

Non-Native Milkweed: Helpful or Harmful?

357px-Asclepias_physocarpa2

  The most recent article about the monarch butterfly in the New York Times has once again raised the question of whether we should be planting non-native milkweed. The milkweed being discussed was the tropical variety most widely available in the usual stores, Asclepias curassavica, known commonly as Scarlet or Tropical milkweed. Ongoing research points… [Read More]

Seeds of a New Chapter?

Eastern Shore Demonstration Garden

Virginia’s Eastern Shore: it’s that part of the state that is separated from the rest of the Commonwealth, attached by land to Maryland and connected to the rest of Virginia only by the 17.6-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, an engineering marvel. All too often the ES is omitted from simple maps of the state, and residents… [Read More]

A Boy Named Sue: When and Where to Use a Plant’s Scientific Name

Hypochaeris Radicata, hairy or cat's ears dandelion

Why is using a plant’s scientific name important? Especially when common (vernacular) plant names can give you so much more information about the thought process and cultural beliefs of the people that named the plants. The use of vernacular in plant naming is a time-honored tradition that should never be thrown out because of what… [Read More]