On October 20, 2020 PEC’s habitat & stewardship specialist, Celia Vuocolo, gave a virtual presentation about the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign.
George Mason University plant ecology students are helping The Piedmont Environmental Council measure the success of our wetlands restoration effort at Roundabout Meadows. With a grant from the Virginia Native Plant Society, the students are establishing a baseline dataset by collecting and identifying all plant species there.
Along the Rush River in the town of Washington, just a few miles east of the Shenandoah National Park, the 7.3-acre Rappahannock County Park is best known by locals for its pirate-ship playground, skate park, tennis courts, and picnic area. But, it has also come into focus recently for its natural beauty.
The native flower meadow our Piedmont Memorial Overlook property is almost at peak bloom!
This 50-acre property, which has one of the best views in Northern Virginia, is publicly accessible via Sky Meadows State Park. It’s a one-way 1.6-mile hike there via the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail, but many people make it a 4.6-mile loop that includes a stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
Rumor has it, the idea for Earth Day was first announced at the Airlie Conference Center in Fauquier County, spurring a national and international movement to make the environment a major focus. That was 1969, and today, 50 years later, much progress has been made on those initial concerns about air and water pollution, loss of wildlife and endangered species. But, as we are reminded daily, that progress has been offset by population growth and consumption around the world. Arguably, we are overwhelming the earth’s natural systems at a global scale.
Distracted by an iconic red barn sitting atop picturesque rolling hills, I passed the gravel driveway I was supposed to turn down. As I found my way back, I saw the very reason I was visiting the Goodall property in Madison County. Long rows of newly planted trees nestled inside light green tubes stretched along a tributary of the Robinson River.
I met with brothers, Paul and Joe Goodall, to discuss their family’s participation in the Headwaters Stream Initiative, a partnership program coordinated by Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) and The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) to protect and restore the Rappahannock River watershed by working with landowners to plant native trees and shrubs and re-establish riparian buffers along waterways, which provide a healthy habitat for fish, wildlife and livestock.
With umbrellas in hand, attendees of the Larson Native Plant Garden Reception ventured out to admire the well-designed landscape around PEC’s headquarters office in Warrenton, Va. Named in honor of the organization’s former vice president, Doug Larson, the visionary of the project, the garden has 118 species of native perennials, woodies and grasses.
“It’s already proving to be an educational tool,” says Doug. “People in our beautiful front yard were reading the names of the plants and really taking it all in; and that’s just folks walking down the street. I think it’s going to show people in Warrenton what they can do with native plants.”
PEC partnered with the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC), Cliff Miller Jr. and RappFLOW to install a pollinator garden next to a walking trail by the Thornton River in Sperryville, Va. Using native plants such as perennials, grasses and shrubs from Hill House Farm and Nursery, the garden was installed during a volunteer planting event this past fall.
PEC is seeking motivated volunteers to assist with pollinator and flower surveys at the Larson Native Plant Garden at our headquarters in Warrenton from April – July, 2018. The aim of these surveys is to document how pollinators (especially, native bees) use urban gardens that have been planted with a variety of native flowers, shrubs, and trees. These surveys will hopefully be the first of a continuing, annual effort to track local pollinator populations over time.
You don’t have to be a genuine bee keeper to help our native bees. You can create a place for them to thrive right in your backyard garden. First, assess your location. Is your project area in full sun, partial sun or is it fully shaded? Soil drainage also matters, whether it’s average, dry or wet soil. Once you know this, pick the plants that would thrive in that specific environment.
Choosing native plants is best for native bees, as they have adapted to each other over time. You can visit the Virginia Plant Atlas at vaplantatlas.org to see a selection of native species or review PEC’s “Go Native Go Local” guide at pecva.org/gonative to find retailers selling natives.