Nursery specializing in native plants
16764 Hamilton Station Rd, Hamilton, VA 201580
Owner: Julie Borneman
Phone: 540-441- 7443
Growing up, nature was never something Julie Borneman had an interest in. She was raised in East Dubuque, IL, right along the Mississippi River where the dirt is rich and black, and anything would grow. Her parents always kept a lush garden and growing up she helped, but never really got the bug. Her dad was always taking her on nature hikes and encouraging her to notice nature. Little did her parents know that even though she was resistant to the outdoors, those experiences grew into what is now her passion for wildlife.
In 2009 Julie and her husband Chris found a stretch of land that was mostly wooded, a novelty in Loudoun County. So, they decided to get back to nature and buy this land and care for it as a habitat for wildlife. Upon moving in they found it to be over run with invasive plant species. Surprisingly, the property also did not have a large number of pollinators or birds and displayed signs of a distressed stream. To learn more about the flora Julie took master gardener classes, volunteered with conservation groups like Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, and participated with the Audubon at Home program.
Julie and Chris along with their two boys worked to clean up the property and introduce sustainable native flora that would attract and maintain a large variety of birds and insects. By cleaning up the streams and surrounding areas, the stream life flourished. They converted open grass areas into meadows with native plants to provide more habitat for a larger variety of wildlife while reducing the pollution and use of fossil fuels from mowing every week. The number of butterflies increased, along with many sources and varieties of food for the wildlife.
Late one night Julie and Chris discussed all of the progress and some of the challenges of finding local native plants in Loudoun County. The idea to start their own native plant nursery resonated and the very next day they obtained a business license and set the process in motion. In less than a month they held their first sale and the outpouring of community support was overwhelming. They found that one of the most rewarding parts of this plant business is the opportunity to get to know customers and helps solve their garden challenges. This family business keeps the whole family busy. Husband Chris and sons Jackson and Cooper are the chief source of labor and moral support. The boys work in the nursery and are saving their earnings for college. Without the whole family this business venture would not be possible.
Watermark Woods focuses on Piedmont native plants and education. Julie does numerous speaking engagements throughout the year to garden groups, scouts and schools. Julie is also a newly certified horticulturist. Watermark Woods also offers garden consultations and design services. While Watermark Woods is always trying to propagate and offer new plant varieties to their clients, 2017 brings a really unique variety. Julie recently learned to weld and is making a new variety: metal garden art. Chris is learning the new skill of woodturning and is excited at the prospect of using native wood to create turned art. It just goes to show that you never know what unique treasure you will find at Watermark Woods.
Plants are truly amazing. They are the only thing on the planet that can turn the sun’s energy into food. However, the real enjoyment comes from the habitat and nourishment they provide for wildlife. The butterflies, birds, and critters that need the plants to sustain their life make it all worth the effort. There is nothing more rewarding than planting milkweed then seeing the first monarch in your yard, or planting paw paw for zebra swallowtail to discover, or even having a hummingbird shoo you away from your newly planted cardinal flower. Watermark Woods hopes to help people experience these thrills for themselves through native plants, while helping to sustain our fragile planet.
Hours and inventory are posted at www.watermarkwoods.com.