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April 2023 Update

Our shopping trips can double as eco-action. Please see the short article at the bottom of this page and share it as widely as possible.

Lots going on during Earth Month

Talks, walks and native plant sales can be found on our Events Calendar. The month is capped off by…

City Nature Challenge April 28-May 1

During this annual event, people all over the world upload photos to iNaturalist to help document life on Earth. Last year 67,200 people participated, including 2,229 in the greater DC metro area. You can join the fun! This minute-and-a-half video explains.

A few more volunteers needed for staffing tables

We especially need help at these events. Please check our SignUp Genius for these and other opportunities.

· Fairfax County Earth Day 4/22

· Fairfax Veg Fest 4/23

· Falls Church Garden Club and Ayr Hill Garden Club 5/13

Outreach of the month – who cuts your hair?

Social action movements spread primarily by way of personal conversations with trusted people. A friendly chat with you may be the first time someone has heard of native plants. Unless you are still doing COVID cuts at home, you have the opportunity to bring one more person into the fold every time you go to the hairdresser or barber. You can make it easy for them to follow through if you present them with a copy of Native Plants for Northern Virginia, a gift that can cost you as little as $3.50 per copy (if you buy ten or more) or in any event under $10.00.

Here is a partial list.

· Blue Ridge PRISM (invasive plant control)

In addition, many of these organizations have informative pages on social media.

Report your native tree and shrub plantings

Please help Virginia meet its tree-planting obligations by reporting your tree and shrub plantings here. So far 11,521 have been reported!

Report your tree rescues

Millions of trees are at risk from invasive non-native vines. You can help save them on your own land or by volunteering on public land. So far, 8,161 tree rescues have been reported in Northern Virginia. Please add your report here.

Next Steering Committee meeting – via videoconferencing – All are welcome. Thursday, May 4, 10:00am-noon. Check our Event Calendar for future meetings.

This month’s newsletter article to share – Please use this link for social media.

Shopping for the birds

Warm weather has many of us headed to the garden center, where lovely blooms await. Did you know that those shopping trips can double as one of the most effective ways to contribute to a healthier environment? With a little planning, our plant choices can make the difference between a community that supports the birds and butterflies and a community that completely displaces them. The key is to pick native plants, the ones that evolved right here with those critters and provide them the food they need to survive. Native trees and shrubs are especially important, but even the tiniest plants play an important role in the ecosystem.

How do you tell if a plant is native to our area? A simple way is to look for the red “Northern Virginia Native” stickers at participating nurseries. Over fifty volunteers from the Plant NOVA Natives campaign have been labeling the natives in those garden centers. The trees get hang tags, and the other plants get red stickers. You won’t find the stickers in the annuals sections, though, since those plants are purely ornamental and not locally native. Since turnover is rapid this time of year, making it hard for volunteers to keep up with the labeling, you might want to take along a copy of the Native Plants for Northern Virginia guide, or use the online pdf or search app.

An even simpler way to guarantee that a plant is native is to buy it from someone who only sells native plants. There are four garden centers in Northern Virginia that do just that. In addition, periodic native plant sale events are held around the region in the spring and the fall.

Spring planting for many people consists primarily of filling pots with colorful flowers. The absence of annuals might seem like a problem until you learn that native plants make excellent container specimens as well, with the added advantage that they only need to be planted once, since they will overwinter in the pot and provide the fun of watching their tender leaves emerge in the spring. Visits to the blooms from butterflies and hummingbirds add even more enjoyment. The Plant NOVA Natives website has plant suggestions for container gardening, but almost any native can be used for this purpose if the container is big enough.


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