May 2021 Update

At the bottom of this page, please see the short article on­­­­­ progress of the native plant movement, and share it as widely as possible.

All hands on deck for our upcoming native tree campaign!

  • Help celebrate trees in September or October - Can you arrange a tree-related event (plantings, talks, walks, giveaways, acorn collections, making tree-related art, forest bathing, etc.?)We would like to advertise multiple events all over Northern Virginia during that early fall period.

  • Help with the legwork for our tree celebration - We need someone to correspond with the potential event organizers and put it all onto a calendar.

  • App creator – Can you create a very simple app to pair with the My Trees Count website? We will be asking people to record their tree plantings (in fact people can record them now) on the state website and would like an app to make it more mobile friendly.

  • Social media volunteers – We need several people to take the lead on regular postings on various social media sites.

  • Someone to send press releases - We need an ongoing “press office” to collect contact info for all the local media outlets then send them occasional press releases, starting with our tree celebration.

  • Send us your tree-related stories - We plan to use stories about people to illustrate different aspects of the tree campaign, such as enjoying or planting trees in yards, common land or commercial settings; saving trees from being removed; rescuing them from invasives; leaving a snag of a dead tree; planting a memorial tree; watching one grow over decades, etc. If you are willing to have us tell your story (and it can be a very simple one), please let us know.

Email plantnovanatives@gmail.com if you can help.

Ask the Expert - Rain Gardens

Wednesday, June 23, 9:30am-10:30am

A rain garden is a constructed landscaping element where stormwater is captured and filtered by native plants. Maria Harwood from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District will give some basic background and answer questions that are submitted ahead of time. Register here.

Next Steering Committee meeting – via videoconferencing – All are welcome. Thursday, June 3, 10:00am-12:00pm. Check our Event Calendar for future meetings.

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

Native plant sales are booming

Interest in using native plants in our yards has been growing over the past decade, gradually at first, and suddenly exponentially. It has long been known that native plants are critical to the ecosystem, and now thought leaders in the landscaping industry have taken up the cause of promoting them for our yards. Public gardens have set aside sections to demonstrate their value in the landscape, and gardening magazines are touting them in every edition. Garden centers have responded to the increase in demand for natives by increasing the diversity of plants available for sale.

When COVID struck last year, new gardeners flocked to garden centers in droves. As the country has started to open up this spring, sales have soared even higher. A very significant chunk of those increases has gone toward native plant purchases. The landscape designers and owners of garden centers that specialize in native plants have been exhausting themselves to keep up with the demand.

Why are native plants so particularly popular? We may be reaching a tipping point in acceptance of personal environmental responsibility, as the populace is finally facing the reality that our ecosystem is teetering in the balance and that the time to take action is now. Our own properties are a place where we can make a palpable difference by using locally native plants to support birds and other wildlife. Many of the new gardeners are younger and particularly attuned to the value of gardening not just for beauty but for a greater purpose. At the same time, the industry has had time to experiment with native plants and figure out where they do best in a landscape setting. It is now easy to find the plants and choose the ones best suited to a given landscaping need.

Several years ago, representatives of environmental organizations and governmental agencies got together to create Plant NOVA Natives, a campaign to promote the use of native plants in Northern Virginia. One strategy has been to provide a plant guide and resources on the Plant NOVA Natives website, with simple suggestions for every planting situation along with more details for those who are interested and even more details for landscape professionals. The other strategy has been to essentially deputize everyone who hears about the value of native plants to spread the word. One section of the website shows how to reach out to neighbors, community associations and faith communities. The website also lists the garden centers that only sell native plants - an introduction to three of those specialty nurseries is on this short video – as well as twenty-one conventional garden centers where volunteers for the campaign have been putting red “Northern Virginia Native” stickers on plants.

All in all, Northern Virginians are discovering that gardening to support nature has never been easier. Once healthy landscaping practices are adopted, the sight of a yard dancing with butterflies is enough to sell the native plant concept all by itself.