Narrow-leaf Mountain Mint: Pollinator Magnet

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter All of the species of Mountain-mints are virtual pollinator and butterfly magnets! They are always “humming” with butterflies and pollinators and their handsome foliage and long-lasting flowers make them summer garden stars. Of the twelve species in Virginia, Narrow-leaf Mountain-Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) is certainly one of the most attractive…

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Showy Swamp Rose

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter June is always an exciting month in the many freshwater wetlands in the Northern Neck and beyond as many plants come into bloom. And one of the showiest blooms belongs to our beautiful Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris, an upright, deciduous shrub typically reaching 3 – 6’ high and wide,…

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Blue-Eyed Grass Blooms for Bees and Butterflies

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Narrow-leaved Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is a lovely small perennial typically reaching only 6 – 12” high and wide but in late spring it lights up the landscape wherever it grows. This is a “grass” only in name as it is a member of the Iris family, with linear,…

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Marsh Marigold: A Spring Tonic

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Today, the first day of April, has dawned cold with rain and winds after a week of mild weather, and I seek solace in the first harbingers of spring. A hike to Cabin Swamp in Hickory Hollow Natural Area Preserve is just the spring tonic needed. Sure enough, the…

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Redbud is Ready for Spring

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter As signs of spring fill the air, I find myself eagerly anticipating the vibrant magenta pink blooms of one of our most beautiful flowering trees, the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis). This small tree is a common sight along roadsides, woodland edges, and old fields in Virginia in late March…

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Skunk Cabbage Secrets

By Nancy Sorrells On this winter weather Valentine’s Day I decided to journey back into the forest behind our property to the secret place I know where the globally rare Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata) grows. Today’s visit was not to see Swamp Pink, which is still sleeping and will not send up its amazing pink…

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Wildflower of the Year 2021 American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)

Wisteria frutescens is a woody liana, potentially growing to heights of 15 m; young stems are smooth or covered with small hairs pressed tightly to the stem surface. Stems climb by twining around supports in a clockwise direction. Leaves are alternate and odd-pinnately compound, 10—30 cm long. Leaves may have from 5 to 15 leaflets…

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A Parasitic Lifestyle: Beechdrops and Their Relatives

By Marion Lobstein Two primary characteristics of plants are a light-capturing pigment, chlorophyll, which gives most plants a green color, and the use of this pigment to capture light energy to carry out photosynthesis to produce energy-rich food from carbon dioxide and water. This kind of plant lifestyle is known as autotrophic or self-nourishing. Indian…

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Red Chokeberry Shines in All Seasons

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) is a versatile landscape shrub that shines in all four seasons of the year. In spring, showy clusters of up to 25 pristine white, or pink-blushed flowers light up the garden. Throughout summer the foliage is a lustrous dark green, then ignites in fall with shades…

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Goldenrod Glows in the Fall

By Richard Stromberg Along with Asters, Goldenrods are the dominant flowers in September. Some of them continue flowering into October, and you will see their fluffy seed heads all winter. Goldenrods have small-flowered, yellow spikes and sprays. Twenty goldenrod species are frequent in the Piedmont Chapter area. Note that the large leaves at the base…

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