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June 2024 Update




Good hedges make good neighbors: Please see the short article at the bottom of this update and share it as widely as possible. 


Outreach of the month: Help reach landscape professionals 

Please invite any landscape professionals you know or have worked with to attend our sixth annual native plant conference for professionals on August 13. This year’s theme is, “The plants are confused: landscaping in a changing climate.” Details are here. Landscape professionals include designers, installers, maintenance crews, growers, property managers, developers, garden center owners and staff, etc. 


New mostly-native garden center in Arlington

Arlington Native Plants & Edibles

925 N. Madison St., Arlington 

Saturday 11AM-3PM; Sunday 11AM-2PM (Closed in July and August)

Email carniolafarms@gmail.com to request a specific plant.

One or two volunteers are needed to put Northern Virginia Native stickers on their plants. Email plantnovanatives@gmail.com if you can help.


New website for (relatively) new state-wide invasives plant coalition

Under the leadership of Blue Ridge PRISM, 76 stakeholders from across Virginia met last December to work out a comprehensive and vigorous plan to address the problem of invasive plants in Virginia. They currently are working in ten teams to focus on the numerous aspects of this thorny problem, including the need for more effective state policies. You can sign up on the website to receive updates.  https://virginiainvasives.org/   


Thirty trees rescued at Oakton High School!Last month’s tree article featured a photo of a tree being swallowed by a mulch volcano. That photo was taken by an alert reader who noticed that mulch was applied incorrectly around newly planted trees at Oakton High School, piling it against the trunks. We are delighted to report that the Fairfax County Public School’s Get2Green folks jumped on this problem as soon as they heard about it and turned it into a wonderful learning experience for staff and students. They organized a Mulch Volcano Flattening event during which students raked away the mulch from dozens of trees, pushing it to a safe diameter in which the mulch is no more than 4 inches deep and no longer touching the trunks. Well done, Oakton High School and the Get2Green program!


Do you live in southern Fairfax County and have experience with distinguishing invasive from native vines? One or two volunteers are needed to show an Operation Stream Shield team how to clip invasive vines at the base of trees in VDOT rights of way. The team can be available on the first and third Thursday of every month from 10am to 2pm. This is a very fun and rewarding experience. Email 1margaret.e.fisher@gmail.com


Partner of the month: Tree Stewards

There are three Tree Stewards chapters in Northern Virginia: Arlington/Alexandria, Loudoun Master Gardeners, and the recently founded Fairfax Tree Stewards. Organized under the non-profit Trees Virginia, Virginia’s Urban Forest Council, Tree Stewards provide education to the community regarding the environmental benefits, appreciation, proper planting and care of trees. That education can include site visits. Volunteers take a training class and in return contribute service hours which can include educational or hands-on activities.



Report your native tree and shrub plantings

Please help Northern Virginia meet its tree-planting obligations by reporting your tree and shrub plantings here. So far 15,733 have been reported!

 

Report your tree rescues

Millions of trees in Northern Virginia are at risk from invasive non-native vines. You can help by saving them on your own land or by volunteering on public land. (Plant NOVA Natives/Plant NOVA Trees only does educational outreach, so all this work is done under the auspices of our partnering organizations or other landowners.). So far, 13,856 tree rescues have been reported in Northern Virginia. Please add your report here

 

Next Steering Committee meeting – via videoconferencing – All are welcome. Thursday, August 8, 10:00 am – noon. Check our Event Calendar for future meetings.

 

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


Good Hedges Make Good Neighbors


Dense plantings between properties are a valuable amenity, so much so that they are mandated for many building projects. A mixed hedge consisting of native plant species has the added value of supporting the songbirds in our communities. Privacy screens don’t always work out as planned, though, so here are a few considerations for creating and maintaining them.


Rows of identical evergreen trees or shrubs have been the conventional choice for screening. A strong case can be made, however, for mixing it up a bit. Ten plants of the same species may look symmetrical initially, but nature has a way of laughing at symmetry. Small variations in sunlight and moisture can cause the plants to grow at different rates. In the case of shrubs, this problem can be countered for a while by shearing them all to the same height. But it’s not a lot of fun to be standing on a ladder to shear plants, and eventually plants tend to rebel at being chopped back and start to look tired or leggy. A more serious problem occurs when one of them dies, leaving a hole in the screening, or worse, when a disease spreads from plant to plant, as can easily happen to a monoculture.


By contrast, a screen that consists of a variety of native plants - chosen because their natural sizes are appropriate for the situation - can do the job while reducing maintenance needs. As an important bonus, native trees and shrubs provide not only nesting sites for songbirds but also food for both the adults and the nestlings, unlike plants that evolved elsewhere and do little to support the local ecosystem. A list of native plants that are suitable for screening can be found on the Plant NOVA Natives website.


Sometimes people find themselves in a hurry to screen off an undesirable view and are facing the problem of having to wait for trees and shrubs to grow high enough. A better solution may be to block the view right away with a lattice and cover it with Coral Honeysuckle or Crossvine. Both of these evergreen native vines have colorful blooms that attract hummingbirds..


Unfortunately, our buffer areas between properties have become a prime target for invasive plant species, which can seriously degrade a site before the landowner realizes something is wrong. If screening was mandated in the development process, local ordinances require that the plants be maintained in good health and replaced if they die. The most immediate threat is posed by invasive vines such as Japanese Honeysuckle or Asian Wisteria which strangle and smother trees and shrubs. A nice screening that was an amenity is now a derelict eyesore and an invitation to dumping. Invasive trees such as Callery Pear crowd out the native trees, and invasive shrubs such as Japanese Barberry, Nandina, and Burning Bush prevent tree seedlings from growing. The sooner these plants are recognized and dealt with, the easier and less expensive it will be to preserve the beauty of our homes and communities. You can learn more about that on the invasives management page of the Plant NOVA Natives website.




7 Comments


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Wells Edith
Wells Edith
3 days ago

Hedges provide a natural barrier that defines property lines while offering privacy from prying eyes. This can help reduce conflicts and misunderstandings about space and boundaries.

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greylina09
Jul 09

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