Larson Native Plant Garden Opening

Friday, May 18, 2018 was just like every day that week — rainy and gray. But that didn’t stop the mood from being welcoming and bright at The Piedmont Environmental Council office.

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.

Former PEC Vice President Doug Larson and PEC President Chris Miller stand beside a plaque honoring Mr. Larson for his efforts in helping create the native garden at PEC’s headquarters office in Warrenton, Va. Photo by Paula Combs.

“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.”

The garden was designed by Dan Holmes, director of state policy for PEC, who has a background in horticulture and a masters in landscape design.

“Our goal was to increase people’s comfort with the use of native plants in their own yard,” says Dan. “The result was a demonstration garden showcasing two different design aesthetics. The front of the property mimics a typical residential landscape, replacing commonly used exotic or horticultural varieties with native species. The backyard is quite the opposite, more wild and designed to slowly succeed into a woodland garden.”

PEC’s habitat and stewardship specialist, Celia Vuocolo, selected the native perennials and grasses for the garden, focusing on species that attract pollinators.

“Surprisingly, urban areas can sometimes have higher pollinator diversity than rural areas, so I was curious to see what sort of pollinator species we could attract with the right plants,” explains Celia.

A plaque honoring Doug Larson was installed in the garden and unveiled during the reception.

Everything turned out gorgeous and the planting is wonderful,” says Doug.

“Many people helped make the garden a reality, but I especially want to recognize Grelen Nursery and Mark Ohrstrom who donated most of the trees and shrubs.”

This article was featured in our Summer 2018 member newsletter, The Piedmont View.