It’s spring and we’re busy preparing for a busy growing season. The wildflower meadow has had its annual mowing which we do in late February or early March. Mowing (or burning) yearly is necessary to maintain a meadow habitat in this part of the world. Without this maintenance the area would quickly revert to an early successional forest. Nothing wrong with forest. We have just chosen to keep this acre of our property as open meadow to increase the habitat diversity that we have to offer.
Our forests are also getting some maintenance. We spend a lot of time throughout the winter months on invasive species control efforts, primarily cutting and pulling non-native bittersweet and honeysuckle. No herbicides used here. Both of these species will climb high into the trees and eventually the weight of the vines will break them off or pull them down especially during wind storms like we saw a few weeks ago. In addition, we are working on increasing the diversity of species in our forested areas by adding in plants that are suitable for the habitat and will add wildlife value and beauty to the area.
The spring ephemerals are starting to bloom. A walk through the woods this time of year might reward you with patches of white, pink or purple blooms in amongst the brown leaves of winter on the forest floor. Bloodroot, spring beauties, cut leaf toothwort, Virginia bluebells, these first wildflowers to bloom each spring take advantage of the sunlight that is able to reach the ground through the still bare trees. Once the trees have their leaves, the spring ephemerals will be in deep shade and finished with the majority of their work for the year. We have only just begun.
The row covers have been removed from the wildflowers that we over winter and we are looking forward to watching them spring back to life. We are now growing over 250 species of plants that are native to Virginia. Species like the spring ephemerals that have evolved here and have an important and unique role to play in feeding and providing housing for native pollinators, butterflies, birds, mammals, and all of the other wildlife that live here.
This is also the time of year to recharge our water catchment system. We have a series of very large rainwater collection barrels linked to all of the gutters on our buildings. In total we can store 5000 gallons of water which we use to water all of the plants in the nursery. Our largest tank holds 2100 gallons. During the freezing months we drain the system to prevent freeze damage to the plumbing. Once the danger of hard freezing has passed we hook it all back up and begin to harvest the rain again! Just in time to begin watering when necessary. Much of our system was financed with assistance from the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District. Our rainwater collection helps keep streams cleaner. You could easily do something similar. We’d be happy to provide more details if you’re interested.
We’ll be opening for the 2018 season on Saturday April 14th and will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 – 5:00 and by appointment. We’ll also be at a couple of events/plant sales this spring. Check our website or Facebook page for dates.
Come by, visit, check out all the beautiful native plants and make plans on how you can add some to your landscape.