Tuckahoe Park Habitat on the Mend…

by Mary McLean

July 2013:  Dangerous Plants on the Run!

You may have seen the warning signs “Don’t walk off the trail.” Plant specialist placed them to protect pets and people. Arlington County hired Invasive Plant Control (IPC) to help improve Tuckahoe’s habitat. IPC employees are specially licensed and trained. Only the most environmentally suitable chemical, a glyphosate-based herbicide, was used on non-native plant species. A sturdy crew of four bush-wacked throughout Tuckahoe Park, giving no ground to the plants harming Tuckahoe’s habitat. The dead, brown-leaved plants indicate plants killed by the treatment.

Plants Removed or Treated:
Norway maple, Asian bittersweet, Winter creeper, English ivy, Japanese holly, Prunus avium, Prunus subhirtella, Golden Rain tree, Malus spp., California privet, Chinese barberry, Callery pear (Bradford pear), White mulberry, Amur bush honeysuckle, and Multiflora rose.

Please contact Sarah Archer, Arlington County Invasive Removal Coordinator.

August 2013:  Natives are back!

Grow Zone sign

The “Grow Zone,” replanted with natives by Eagle Scout, Jacob Heidig, has flowers in bloom. Rare native Smartweed, Great Blue Lobelia, Cardinal Flower, orchid Joe-Pye, fucia Bergamot, Ox Eye Sunflower, and purple New England Aster.

New England Aster Sympyotrichum novae-angliae

New England Aster Sympyotrichum novae-angliae

Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia Siphilitica

Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia Siphilitica

Continue reading

September Barcroft Park Habitat Restoration Work Party

by Marion Jordan


Join us on September 21 from 1 – 3 pm for the next Barcroft Park Habitat Restoration Work Party. We will join with Arlington for a Clean Environment (ACE) to help lead volunteers in cleaning up trash in the park. There are over 55 volunteers already signed up with ACE so leaders are really needed to help direct the volunteers.  The ACE team will focus on the stream and we will lead teams on the trails and other areas in the park.

We will meet at the picnic pavilion in Barcroft Park at 1 pm.  If you park in the Barcroft recreational area parking lot, walk past the soccer fields, bear right and then cross the stream on the wood and steel bridge. Wear long pants and long sleeves. Bring gloves if you have them. We will also supply gloves and garbage bags for trash pick-up. In order to help ACE plan for supplies and snacks, please register at the ACE site (https://www.eventbrite.com/event/7582711093) as an ARMN volunteer.

This is a wonderful opportunity to see the results of the work done so far in Barcroft Park, and observe a park on its way to natural health. If you have worked with us in the past, come see the results of your hard work and the significant investment by Arlington County. If you are new to Barcroft, join us to see the park that has been designated as a top priority for Arlington due to its unique habitat. After the work party, we will provide a short update on the results of Arlington County’s continuing work to treat invasives and improve habitat as well as describe longer term plans for meadow habitat.

This project needs you! Every pair of hands makes a difference for this valuable ecological site. Your work will help improve the habitat for birds and other wildlife in Barcroft.

If you have questions, please contact Marion Jordan at mcjordn@verizon.net.

ARMN Members Help Rebuild Grass Enclosure in Belmont Bay

By Kasha Helget

In response to a request from the staff of Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), ARMN members Melissa Perez and Kasha Helget got their feet (legs, and knees) wet on Friday, May 10th to assist in the reconstruction of a celery grass enclosure on the Potomac River’s Belmont Bay at Mason Neck Park in Lorton.

Perez is a grass grower and Helget is a regional coordinator in CBF’s “Grasses for the Masses” program. In this program, Virginia residents grow underwater celery grass (Vallisneria americana) in their homes or schools during winter, and then plant the grasses during spring in Belmont Bay at Mason Neck Park or in James River. The aquatic grasses filter nutrients and provide important habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures, and help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

The grass plantings take place on several days between mid-May and early June; however, CBF staff was notified that the enclosure at Belmont Bay was destroyed by some errant driftwood and needed to be rebuilt before the grass installations could be done there.

Bare enclosure for celery grass prior to installation of new screening to protect the new plantings.  (No, the driftwood in the foreground is not a shark. :-)

Bare enclosure for celery grass prior to installation of new screening to protect the new plantings. (No, the driftwood in the foreground is not a shark.) 🙂

So, a group of seven CBF staffers and volunteers jumped (waded) in to replace screening around the enclosure and anchor it to the sand for better support, and to prevent turtles and other large interlopers from entering the enclosure and destroying the grasses.

Master Naturalist Melissa Perez holds up a support post while awaiting additional cable ties for the screen.

Master Naturalist Melissa Perez holds up a support post while awaiting additional cable ties for the screen.


Continue reading

Potomac Overlook Park Native Shade Garden’s Second Spring

By Sue Dingwell

The Potomac Overlook Park Native Shade Garden is growing up! ARMN members have been carefully tending this little niche, encouraging the natives, discouraging the weeds, and doing battle royale with the deer. This is the garden’s second spring. Volunteers were greeted on Tuesday, April 23 with colorful blooms and  vigorous green shoots as preparations continue for the Open House at PORP on May 11.

It has been fun to watch the progress and evolution of this space, which was created to  provide education for homeowners by showcasing native plants that thrive in the shade. Joanne Hutton, who is one of the the garden’s moms, says that the Packera aurea, commonly known as Golden ragwort, has done a marvelous job of filling in, making a dense patch that keeps out weeds. In fact, ARMN volunteers had to remove some of it from the pathways and surrounds of other desirable groundcovers!

If you visit the site this week, you will be welcomed into the garden with sunny ragwort blossoms gracing the entrance.

Golden ragwort & tools.

Golden ragwort & tools.

Ragwort buds

Ragwort buds

Ragwort rhizome

Ragwort rhizome

Continue reading

Homeowners save wildlife by creating a green network across Northern Virginia

By Leigh Pickering

In the past month, seven local properties have joined the ranks of homeowners creating a green network for wildlife in Arlington and Alexandria. This critical work is intended to blunt the impact of habitat loss in our area by providing small sanctuaries desperately needed for the survival of wildlife in our increasingly urban environment. The properties range in size and style from a narrow lot in Old Town Alexandria to a wooded ravine and intermittent stream just above Chain Bridge.

The Audubon at Home program seeks to make every home a wildlife sanctuary by certifying that each property works to achieve the goals stated in the Healthy Yard Pledge. The Healthy Yard Pledge is an amalgamation of many of the topics covered in our Master Naturalist Training. The five points of the pledge include:

1. Remove invasive exotic plants.
2. Reduce or eliminate pesticide and fertilizer use.
3. Conserve and protect water, waterways and water quality.
4. Install native plants to support the local food chain.
5. Support wildlife with water, cover and food to the extent possible.

Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) is a great evergreengroundcover for a hot sunny area. Here, on a south- facing slate patio. groundcover for a hot sunny area. Here, on a south- facing slate patio.

Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) is a great evergreen groundcover for a hot sunny area, shown here on a south- facing slate patio.

Continue reading

English Ivy Removal at Tuckahoe Park in March 2013

By Mary McLean

On March 16 a sturdy group of volunteers participated in the March Habitat Restoration of Tuckahoe Park.The volunteers warmed up in the cold, damp morning by pulling up English Ivy. Along with ARMN members, volunteers include young women from Arlington’s Career Center’s ROTC unit, Yorktown’s NHS, and Marymount University. Volunteers rescued 25 mature White Oak, Red Oak, and a young Beech tree from being strangled by English Ivy.

tuckahoe park english ivy

Continue reading

Kids and Nature – A Natural Fit

By Sue Dingwell

ARMN members launched a new Nature Club this spring at  Campbell Elementary School for first and second graders who attend the school’s Extended Day program. Campbell, which is adjacent to Long Branch Park, installed a wonderful new wetland last year, and the Nature Club seemed like a great way to keep a focus on the importance of this newly created resource.

As you can see, fun is the main goal! The children are enjoying a mix of science and artistic expression, with time for exploration and enjoyment of the natural world. They are observing, collecting, recording, experimenting, hypothesizing, and collaborating while they learn about the wetlands. Last week the children released tadpoles from Long Branch Park into one of the ponds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos courtesy of Sue Dingwell

If you are interested in joining in for a day (Wednesdays) to see what it’s like, or just to help out with another set of hands, please drop a line to:

Pat Findikoglu – Patfin2@aol.com
Sue Dingwell – sue@dingwell.net

Need a reason to pull Garlic mustard?

By Travis Anderson

I began writing this article to discover more about the West Virginia White Pieris virginiensis (WVW) and its conservation.  I know that many ARMN members spend a lot of time pulling garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). I thought you might think about how much you are helping WVW when you start attacking garlic mustard this spring.

West Virginia White, Pieris virginiensis

West Virginia White, Pieris virginiensis

The WVW is negatively impacted by garlic mustard. WVW lay their eggs on garlic mustard which is in the same family as the toothworts; however, the garlic mustard is toxic to the caterpillars. Removal of garlic mustard from woods with this butterfly or large toothwort populations is highly recommended. Forest fragmentation due to timbering and development encourages the spread of garlic mustard.

(Travis Anderson is a graduate of the Spring 2009 ARMN Basic Training Course. He lives in Pennsylvania.)

From armneditor:  Check out a wonderful guide on Garlic Mustard Treatment Options published by The Woodland School of The Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Mark your calendar for May 4, 2013 for the Invasive Plant Removal Day. Details forthcoming.


Woodfrogs at Potomac Overlook Regional Park

By Joanne Hutton

If you had been out volunteering with Meet Me on a Sunday on this glorious afternoon, you too might have enjoyed the chorus of woodfrogs spawning at the pond and in vernal pools.


Thanks to Sherry McDonald for the great shot and for throwing herself into the Master Naturalist enterprise with whole heart!

Meet Me on a Sunday (MMOAS): Instituted summer of 2012, volunteers help set up and staff information or interest-area tables in Potomac Overlook Regional Park on Sunday afternoons for two hours, from 1:30 – 3:30, just outside the Nature Center. Volunteers work alongside Nature Center staff, and you are welcomed to set up your own display on a topic of your interest, or to use a range of interpretive materials already there. Most park visitors are families with young children. The Native Plant Garden is a new addition to the park, and ARMN has created a box of information and display materials on invasive and native plants to help with that.

Willing to talk with the public about most any subject of interest to you?
Want to help develop children’s activities to supplement our box?
Want to lead short nature hikes for mixed audiences – e.g. to see wood frogs in action?

If so, this activity could be for you!