Native Plants & Pollinators

The more native plants in your landscape, the better it is for wildlife.

Larson Native Plant Garden Opening

Larson Native Plant Garden Opening

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.”

Pollinator Garden Planted by Thornton River

Pollinator Garden Planted by Thornton River

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.

Volunteer as a Citizen Scientist for Native Pollinator Study

Volunteer as a Citizen Scientist for Native Pollinator Study

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.

A Buzz Worthy Home

A Buzz Worthy Home

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.

Planting by Example

Planting by Example

If you happen to walk by our office in Old Town Warrenton, you may notice some changes around the building — a little more green, some dashes of color and new trees to boot. And along with it being aesthetically pleasing, it is sustainable.

It has been a year and a half since we finished the renovation of our headquarters office. Soon after we moved back in and unpacked, planning for the restoration of the grounds began.

Protecting Thumb Run

Protecting Thumb Run

What’s good for wildlife is often good for water quality,” said Celia Vuocolo, PEC’s wildlife habitat and stewardship specialist, as she spoke to guests at the fifth Annual Thumb Run Open House.

This sentiment was reinforced at the event, held on November 13 at the Orlean Fire Hall, by speakers Amy Johnson of Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Virginia Working Landscapes Program, Janet Davis of Hill House Farm and Nursery and Dr. Tania Cubitt of Performance Horse Nutrition LLC, whose presentations focused on grassland bird conservation, landscaping for wildlife and healthy horse pastures, respectively. While the presentation topics varied, the underlying theme was the same — land stewardship supports clean water.

Grasslands & Meadows

Converting areas of turf and lawn into native warm season grasslands increases the vertical structure and species diversity necessary to feed and provide cover for grassland birds such as bobwhite quail, grasshopper sparrows, meadowlarks, and loggerhead shrikes. Typical warm-season grass species include switchgrass, indiangrass, little and big bluestem, which can be mixed into a beautiful wildflower meadow filled with black-eyed Susans, partridge pea, purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, and New England Asters.

Information on Important Crop Pollinators

Information on Important Crop Pollinators

Pollinators play a significant role in the production of more than 150 food crops in the United States, and studies have found that pollination enhances the yield and quality of a variety of important economic crops. The majority of this economic benefit is attributed to pollination by wild bees. Providing uncultivated land, or habitat, near field edges has shown to increase crop yield and profit. Piedmont farmers can benefit financially by providing adequate habitat for these little produce-friendly helpers.

Managing Your Pesticide Use

If you must spray chemicals on your property, you can take steps to 'manage' your pesticide use. Pesticides can kill pollinator or at the least negatively affect their pollination and reproduction behaviors. Labels only mention potential dangers to honey bees, some bumble bees, and orchard bees which can have very different reactions to chemicals than many native pollinators.