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July 2020 Update

At the bottom of this page, please see the short article on­­­­­ fragrant native plants, and share it as widely as possible. Rick Darke “Lessons from the Living Landscape that is Our Home Habitat” Renowned landscape designer Rick Darke has published eight books including he Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden, which he co-authored with Doug Tallamy. Monday, August 3 7:30 pm. Register here. Can you help by posting our monthly articles on and/or Patch? We are looking for more folks to do this in each zip code (as a rough surrogate for neighborhoods). Please email with your zip code to see if you are needed. Website index We have added so much new material to the Plant NOVA Natives website that it can be a challenge to find stuff. Our new site index should help. Check it out! HOAs and Condo Associations: Lots going on! Maintenance of native plantings at your HOA (or other community settings) Wednesday, August 5, 3:30-4:30 pm Landscape Designer John Magee will address questions about proper maintenance of natural landscaping and native plantings, and what you should ask of your maintenance contractors. Submit your questions and photos ahead of time if you can. Register here. HOAs and Condo Associations: Planning and Managing Common Open Space Friday, September 25 and Saturday, October 24 (choose one) 1:00 – 4:00 pm Join us for an engaging session on ecologically sustainable community master planning and land management in Loudoun County. (The examples will be from Loudoun but the information is applicable anywhere, so all are welcome. Details here. Conservation Advocacy 101 for HOAs and Condo Associations Tuesday, Sept 29: 7pm – 8:30pm or Thursday, Nov 5; 7pm – 8:30pm We can act locally in our own communities to create change. Learn how you can make a difference. You'll get a chance to think about your own community, begin developing your own action plan, and participate in breakout discussions. Requested donation $10-$20. Loudoun County HOA/Condo Association residents: Learn to lead conservation projects in your community! Dates TBD Join the Audubon Naturalist Society this fall (and beyond) for a special, free Loudoun County program to help you lead ecological change in your community. You’ll commit to two half-day workshops, a tour of green infrastructure projects in Loudoun, and to completing a conservation project. Learn more and pre-register here. Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (matching grants) – the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is taking applications from Fairfax County residents July 20-August 19. Funding is tight, but you could get paid significant money to create conservation landscaping. Applications are accepted from faith communities and community associations year round, but individual property owners must apply during this period. Details here. Next Steering Committee meeting – via videoconferencing – All are welcome. August 27, 10:30 am. Details on our Event Calendar. This month’s newsletter article to share – Please distribute as widely as possible. Use this link for social media. Making scents of your yard Fragrant flowers can add a whole extra dimension to gardening, and the flowers of native plants are no exception. The scents are there for the sake of the pollinators, but we can enjoy them as well. If you try putting your nose up to every flower you meet, you will have some interesting surprises. Modern day humans are good at identifying human-made smells such as suntan lotion or diesel fumes but are pretty oblivious to the smells of nature. This may be partly from lack of practice and partly because of our species’ tendency to run roughshod over the planet which includes the olfactory environment as well. If we pay attention, though, we can experience some of the sensations that are so important to other animals. Can you sometimes predict a rainstorm by the smell of the air? You already have developed some skill at interpreting nature’s cues. That slightly metallic odor is zone, pushed down by atmospheric disturbances. If you have a dog, he or she may have introduced you to the scent of foxes, which is surprisingly strong and similar to a skunk. Once you learn to recognize it, you may find yourself spotting foxes that would have sneaked by you otherwise. The smell released by rain after a long dry spell has its own name – petrichor – and is created by a combination of chemicals released by plants and soil bacteria. As you walk along in the woods, you will notice that the scent of life and decay (which is actually just more life) is subtle and complex but distinct enough for you to know when you are passing from one layer to another. In this unusual year when so many people are out walking their neighborhoods, one local resident has watched as folks stop in front of the Common Milkweed that volunteered itself near her sidewalk. Some people comment on the beautiful flower, one person only noticed the bees, but many were brought to a halt by the intoxicating fragrance. So many people inquire about it that she plans to put up a sign. Why not create a natural olfactory landscape in your own yard? Planting fragrant native plants is the perfect way to do that while simultaneously pleasing the butterflies. Many have sweet smelling flowers, some faint, some strong. Some are a little unusual. The tall white spires of Black Cohosh, for example, smell simultaneously sweet and barn-like. Wild Bergamot smells like, well, bergamot, which gives Earl Gray tea its flavor. The flowers of American Holly trees are tiny but fill the air with sweetness for many weeks in late spring. Arguably the winner of any fragrance competition would be the aptly named Sweetbay Magnolia, with its large, soft flowers that smell of lemony rose. Plant one by your front door and you can inhale a lungful of beauty whenever you pass by. For a list of fragrant native plants and where to buy them, see the Plant NOVA Natives website. The site index will point you to sources for signs. Let your neighbors in on your secrets! Why should the bees have all the fun?


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