Entries tagged with “wildflowers”.

We had a fun outing last Saturday with John DeMary leading our group at Balls Bluff Park in Leesburg.

While many of the wildflowers typically in bloom this time of year had already put on their show, there were still a number of great wildflowers to enjoy and we identified and talked about more than 30 different species. 

Some of the wildflowers we saw include Wild Ginger, Early Saxifrage, Shooting Star, Spring Beauties, Bluets, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, blue cohosh, chickweed, squirrel corn, phlox, wild geranium, rue anemone, and a nice variety of violets.

Paw Paw trees were in full bloom and we saw Zebra Swallowtail butterflies flying around. Red Admiral butterflies were also seen.

On the amphibian side of things, Gray Tree Frogs were found by a few of us as they sat in the open and sometimes called.

Black snakes were quite active and we enjoyed watching one climb a tree. A Garter snake also met us along the trail and we enjoyed watching it as it headed back into the leaf litter.

We’ve posted a few photos from the walk on our facebook page.


As we get out into our gardens this spring, we have a nice opportunity to do some native plantings. 

Native bees are one of our most important pollinators and they’re really incredible to watch. 

As you start observing them you’ll also start to recognize different species that we have here in Loudoun – there are lots of different species!

The Xerces Society has put together a nice tip-sheet on plants that are great for our native bees.

Beautiful for your garden, great for the bees!  You can download it here.


If you’re going to have a garden or landscaping around your house, Go Native! 

Native plants are not only more beautiful than the species that come from china and elsewhere (the typical nursery stock) but also provide greater benefit to our local wildlife because plants and animals evolve together.

Native plants survive more easily here because they’re prepared for our weather conditions and soils. This means less work, more enjoyment for you.

You can stock up on all your native plant needs by coming to the Native Plant Sale at Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg on April 9.

Take a look through our gardening for wildlife plant list if you want to learn about some of our local natives and the wildlife that depend on them.

Check out the websites of the vendors below who will bringing plants to the sale. Or, give them a call and get some advice on good plants for your yard. Now is the time to Go Native!

Native Plant Sale! at Rust Nature Sanctuary

April 9, 2011 from 10am to 5pm
802 Childrens Center Rd., Leesburg, Virginia 20175

To look over the plants that each nursery carries or to place an order ahead of time(all nursery stock is not present) please visit the websites below:

Hill House Farm and Native Nursery



Program teaser!!!

The New York Times ran a great write-up on Doug Tallamy’s best seller, Bringing Nature Home, and I wanted to share it as a teaser on the free program we have planned for March 22nd.

Here’s the article:  To Feed the Birds, First Feed the Bugs

And, here’s an excerpt from the book:
“Because food for all animals starts with the energy harnessed by plants, the plants we grow in our gardens have the critical role of sustaining, directly or indirectly, all of the animals with which we share our living spaces. 

The degree to which the plants in our gardens succeed in this regard will determine the diversity and numbers of wildlife that can survive in managed landscapes. 

And because it is we who decide what plants will grow in our gardens, the responsibility of our nation’s biodiversity lies largely with us

Which animals will make it and which will not?  We help make this decision every time we plant or remove something from our yards.”  Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home

Join us on Tuesday, March 22,7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg (downstairs meeting room) to meet Doug Tallamy, and hear from him his thoughts on planting native! I bet he’ll even sign your book if you like.

More information is on our programs calendar.


Join us for this great event! We’re rented an extra large space at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg as we think this will be a pretty popular program — hope you can join us!

“Bringing Nature Home” by Doug Tallamy ― Tuesday, March 22, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (Ida Lee Park, downstairs meeting room).Gardening in our crowded world carries both moral and ecological responsibilities that we can no longer ignore. Because our gardens and managed landscapes are part of the world that sustains humans and the life around us, we must give thoughtful consideration to what we plant in our gardens and how these choices impact the environment. We can no longer view plants only as ornaments but must consider all of their roles and their intricate relationships with animals and insects. Tallamy will discuss the importance of native plants in our landscapes, emphasize the benefits of designing gardens with these roles in mind, and explore the consequences of failing to do so. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear this inspiring and enlightening message in person!

Doug is author of the best selling book, Bringing Nature Home.  [from an article I read recently, "People are calling Doug Tallamy's new book on native plants the next Silent Spring."]

Feel free to download the flierand share it with anyone interested. This free program is sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. Questions: contact Laura McGranaghan at lmcgranaghan@loudounwildlife.org.

We’ll also have copies of our Gardening for Wildlife Plant List available for you to take.


Here in the middle of February, whether it be a warm winter day or snow on the ground, the Skunk Cabbage is emerging as one of our first signs of Spring.

Skunk Cabbage is an interesting plant in that it can generate heat and maintain temperatures that are as much as 86 degrees higher than surrounding air temperatures. When the ground is covered in snow, the plant uses cellular respiration to melt it and thereby emerge.

To see the flower of the skunk cabbage, you need to peer inside the emerging vegetation. Inside, you’ll see the stubby pinkish ball covered in little yellow flowers, all warm and ready for stoneflies, bees and other flies to come by and pollinate it.

The stink of the plant discourages animals, like deer from eating it. Here’s another fun fact from Wikipedia:

Eastern Skunk Cabbage has contractile roots which contract after growing into the earth. This pulls the stem of the plant deeper into the mud, so that the plant in effect grows downward, not upward. Each year, the plant grows deeper into the earth, so that older plants are practically impossible to dig up. They reproduce by hard, pea-sized seeds which fall in the mud and are carried away by animals or by floods.

Skunk cabbage is a wetland plant. When you find it, also look for signs of frogs and salamanders that may use the wet habitat for early spring breeding.


If you’d like to plant a monarch waystation this fall but are in need of seeds, send me a note through our Contact Us page and I’ll pop a seed packet with an information flier in the mail to you. (While supplies last of course)

The Monarchs have already headed to Mexico but we can plant seeds now that will come up in spring and be ready for them.

Seeds included in the packets that we made up include: New England Aster, Joe Pye Weed, Purple Coneflower, Goldenrod, Butterflyweed, Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, and Black-eyed Susan, and New York Ironweed.

This February, I’ll be doing a program on the Magic of Monarch Migration – watch the programs calendar for details. We’ll be updating it soon.


Fall is an ideal time to get some seeds and put them out into your garden area.  Through the winter cold, the seeds will go through the process they need in order to start up in spring time and be beautiful just in time for our pollinators and Monarch butterflies in spring.

By planting a Monarch Waystation, you can be a part of a larger network not only across Loudoun but across the country where people are picking the right plants to grow in their gardens that will benefit Monarch butterflies and other native insects.

You can read more about the Monarch Waystation campaign in the news release below. If you have any questions or would like a waystation kit, please let me know and I’ll get one to you:


“In real estate it’s location, location, location and for monarchs and other wildlife it’s habitat, habitat, habitat”, said Chip Taylor, Director of Monarch Watch. Monarch Watch, started in 1992 as an outreach program dedicated to engaging the public in studies of monarchs, is now concentrating its efforts on monarch conservation.

“We have a lot of habitat in this country but we are losing it at a rapid pace. Development is consuming 6,000 acres a day, a loss of 2.2 million acres per year.

Further, the overuse of herbicides along roadsides and elsewhere is turning diverse areas that support monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife into grass-filled landscapes that support few species. The adoption of genetically modified soybeans and corn have further reduced monarch habitat.

If these trends continue, monarchs are certain to decline, threatening the very existence of their magnificent migration”, said Taylor.

To address these changes and restore habitats for monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife, Monarch Watch is initiating a nationwide landscape restoration program called “Bring Back The Monarchs”.

The goals of this program are to restore 19 milkweed species, used by monarch caterpillars as food, to their native ranges throughout the United States and to encourage the planting of nectar-producing native flowers that support adult monarchs and other pollinators.

This program is an outgrowth of the Monarch Waystation Program started by Monarch Watch in 2005. There are now over 4,000 certified Monarch Waystations – mostly habitats created in home gardens, schoolyards, parks, and commercial landscaping. “While these sites contribute to monarch conservation, it is clear that to save the monarch migration we need to do more,” Taylor said. ”

We need to think on a bigger scale and we need to think ahead, to anticipate how things are going to change as a result of population growth, development, changes in agriculture, and most of all, changes in the climate,” said Taylor.

According to Taylor we need a comprehensive plan on how to manage the fragmented edges and marginal areas created by development and agriculture since it is these edges that support monarchs, many of our pollinators, and the many forms of wildlife that are sustained by the seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, and foliage that result from pollination.

“In effect,” Taylor argues, “we need a new conservation ethic, one dealing with edges and marginal areas that addresses the changes of the recent past and anticipates those of the future.”

For more information on this program, please visit the Bring Back the Monarchs website –


Ann Garvey has organized an excellent Native Plant sale to take place on Saturday, May 22, 9am to 4pm at Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg. You can download the flier here.

Two local nurseries will be bringing their plants and if you want, you can contact them now to place an order so you’re sure to get the plants you want…..like maybe some milkweed :) !

Hill House Farm and Native Nursery: http://www.hillhousenativeplants.com, or email to hillhousefarmandnativenursery@yahoo.com

Nature-By-Design: http://www.nature-by-design.com, or email to randee@nature-by-design.com 

 For those planting Monarch Butterfly Waystations this year, here’s a list of the plants we recommend: Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) , Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) , Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculate), Sweet Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum), Purple Coneflower (Enchinacea purpurea), Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Goldenrod (Solidago), New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)

For other plant ideas, take a look at our Gardening for Wildlife Plant list – it has not only the names of great native plants and their attributes but also the wildlife that you’ll attract by including them in your garden. You can download the full Gardening for Wildlife Plant list or use our Gardening for Wildlife search tool to generate targeted lists of plants.


The spring reading selection has been selected!  Our next book is a collection of essays titled Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Yes, it is about mosses – and also the interconnectedness of all living things. 

You can learn more about our nature book club and sign up to be a part of it by visiting our Book Club page.
Although our reading group has increased to 25 participants, we have yet to gather much interest in attending meetings. Hopefully when the weather improves and the days are longer we will have more in attendance. 

Stay tuned for the date of the next meeting which will be scheduled for a date in April, location TBD. As soon as it’s been set, the information will be posted on the website. In the meantime, enjoy this great book!