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February 2020 Update

Another short article to share – At the bottom of this page, please see the short article about our new “Gardening for Earth Renewal” campaign and share it as widely as possible.

HOAs and Condo Associations symposium – Friday, March 6. We are repeating our very successful “Sustainable Solutions to Landscaping Headaches” symposium. All are welcome, but it is aimed particularly at decision makers from such as Board members, Architectural Review Board, professional managers, landscaping contractors, etc. Details and registration here.

Faith Community symposium – Sunday, June 14  2pm – 4:30 pm. Join us as we discuss how and why faith communities are using their places of worship to demonstrate stewardship of the Earth. Registration here. More details will follow.

We need your help at garden centers – Can you spend an hour or two every few weeks, on your own time, putting red “Northern Virginia Native” stickers on the native plants at one of the 23 participating local garden centers? This has been a very successful program, but we need more volunteers! Email

Speakers BureauWe are seeking both speakers and opportunities to speak. If you are comfortable giving talks, let us know so we can add you to the list.

Can you help at tabling events? – We would love to accept invitations to set up a table at events to talk about native plants, but we need to know now that there will be people to staff them. No experience necessary! Find events and sign up here.

Reston Association Biophilic City – The Reston  Association was one of the first official Biophilic Cities. It’s latest initiative is to ask people to commit to actions that support habitat. See the pledge card and pledge.

Upcoming educational events:

Friday, March 6, 9:15 am – 1 pm -  “Sustainable Solutions to Landscaping Headaches” symposium for HOAs and Condo associations. Northern Virginia Community College – Annandale campus. Register here.Saturday, March 21 Let’s Get Growing symposium, Leesburg. Registration and details here.Thursday, May 14, 10:00 - 2:30 pm - Community Action 1010 Workshop - Learn o promote and implement successful watershed projects. Details and registration here.Find other events on our Event Calendar.

Next Steering Committee meeting – All are welcome! Tuesday March 10 at 10:30 am (but please always check our Event Calendar in case there is a change.)

This month’s newsletter article to share – Please distribute as widely as possible. Use this link for social media.

Gardening for Earth Renewal

How does your garden renew the earth? Vegetable gardens, flower gardens, conventional landscaping and even container gardens can all contribute to a connected landscape that supports our local birds and butterflies. By restoring native plants and avoiding chemicals, together we can heal the damaged landscape we have created with our buildings, sterile lawn, and green-but ecologically-useless plants from other continents.

The wildlife of the East Coast evolved in concert with the complex mixture of trees and understory plants that covered most of the land in the past, plus smaller areas of meadows and wetlands. Turtles, birds, frogs and fireflies all suffer when those hundreds of species of plants are replaced by a monoculture of lawn and a few specimen shrubs. And biodiversity all but disappears when those few plants consist of species that were introduced from elsewhere, as is the case with turf grass (which is from Europe), Japanese Barberry, English Ivy, and many other commonly sold plants, some of which have become invasive and taken over our remaining natural areas.

The antidote is clear: plant more plants, and make sure they are native species! The first step is to look at any nearby natural area and figure out how your property might expand its habitat value and reduce the fragmentation that interferes with the movement of animals. Are you near woods? How about adding more trees and shade-loving shrubs and ground cover? After all, they say that shade gardens are the gardens of the future, because it will be too hot to want to spend much time in the sun! Or perhaps your yard receives your neighbor’s runoff which can be turned into an asset by deep-rooted plants that soak up the excess water and recreate a butterfly-filled meadow. Or perhaps you are lucky enough to have a lawn in full sun that could be used for a raised vegetable bed. Those vegetables are unlikely to be native plants, but the bed will absorb runoff much better than lawn, and you can improve your crop yields by adding a nearby sunny flower garden that draws in the pollinators.

It doesn’t matter whether you want to change or to keep the general appearance of your property – if you prefer, you can achieve the same general look by simply substituting native plants for introduced ones. What we should change is our understanding of how our land functions. You need not settle for a yard that is an empty hole in the map that excludes its natural residents. Rather, your home can become part of what Doug Tallamy, in his newly-released Nature’s Best Hope, is calling our future “Homegrown National Park.” If enough of us make some relatively easy changes to our yard practices, we can knit together our properties into a thriving environment where people and nature live in harmony. Now, in this time of trouble, we can renew the Earth. Find out how at


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