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Arlington Regional Master Naturalists Spring 2014 Training Course Announcement

By Caroline Haynes

VMNClrTyp_cornerYou can make a difference in our community by becoming a Master Naturalist volunteer! The Virginia Master Naturalist program trains volunteers to provide education, citizen science and outreach to conserve and manage natural resources and public lands. Master Naturalist volunteers gain certification through state-approved natural history courses and a commitment to volunteer service. Fun and interactive training is provided by recognized experts in a wide range of disciplines such as ecology, botany, herpetology, ornithology, forest and aquatic ecosystems, and much more.

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Arlington Regional Master Naturalists will be conducting evening training this spring, beginning February 25 through June 10, 2014 on Tuesday evenings from 7 pm to 10pm at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington. Additional field training will be scheduled on four Saturdays. Applications are due February 7, 2014.

For more information and to complete an application, visit the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist website at www.armn.org.

Virginia Master Naturalist programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.

ARMN Member Home Is Showcase for Native Plants

Arlington Regional Master Naturalists who are engaged in the Audubon at Home Program found real inspiration in a visit to the home of member Kasha Helget.  The Audubon at Home certified property is beautifully landscaped almost completely with native plants in both formal and informal styles around the house.  The tour included a plant list and Kasha’s narration of the techniques for turning several challenges such as steep slopes, stormwater issues and a large stand of bamboo into attractive assets for the home.

Tour of Kasha's garden.4

In the front, the property uses a permeable paver driveway with a channel drain and a six foot deep dry well to capture and infiltrate runoff from the adjacent street.

Along the driveway, a shrub and perennial border contains large sweeps of native plants for a variety of seasonal interest including American Beautyberry, Wild Blue Indigo, Threadleaf Tickseed, and several varieties of both Asters and Mountain Mint.

Tour of Kasha's garden.8Tour of Kasha's garden.5 St. John’s Wort (Hypericum frondosum) is sheared as a low formal hedge surrounding a paved area. 

Unlike many traditionally landscaped local homes, most of the foundation plantings (against the base of the house) are deciduous – Clethra, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Coralberry – which is quite freeing from a design standpoint and one that allows the textural interest of the plants and the design of the patios and walks to shine in the winter months.

Evergreen plants – Junipers, Hollies, Wax Myrtle – are concentrated along the edges of the property for screening of neighboring property views and from weather.

Kasha's garden.9

Rainwater is directed around the foundation of the home using a sinuous system of dry creek beds lined with attractive stone. A small pond set into the dry creek bed along the side of the house is a beautiful accent and reminds one of the function of the creek stones.  The existing (invasive but beautiful and functional) bamboo clump that serves a s screening between properties is kept from spreading further by a poured concrete border several feet deep.   As the property slopes steeply downward along the side of the house, pervious steps, terracing and edging manage the grade change.

Tour of Kasha's garden.7Tour of Kasha's garden.6Tour of Kasha's garden.3

Numerous species of often little-used native plants are used in a variety of ways with very attractive results: Hog Peanut (Amphicarpa bracteata) is used as a ground cover below other perennials and on a deeply shaded slope;  Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is used in containers on the shaded deck;  Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) is used as a foundation planting in front of a low window;  and both Blue Wood Sedge (Carex flaccosperma var. glaucodea) and Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis) were used as bed edging plants in shade and sun, respectively.

Tour of Kasha's garden.1

Overall, the Helget property is a testament to good landscape design using appropriate native plants.  Over 115 species of trees, shrubs, perennials and vines flower and produce fruit and seeds throughout the season.  These large sweeps of perennials and shrubs provide cover and food for numerous species of wildlife and four-season landscape interest for the owners and visitors.  The large variety of species vastly increases the biodiversity of the site and, during our short visit, we saw and heard many birds and species of pollinating insects visiting the garden.

Take Back the W&OD Trail in Bon Air Park

A determined and energetic group of allies put their hearts, souls, and backs into transforming a tangled, rocky slope into a smooth bed ready for native plants on Saturday August 17th.  Their combined efforts transformed a large embankment alongside the W&OD Trail in Arlington where it runs past Bon Air Park.  Project coordinator Patrick Wegeng, the Environmental Landscape Manager for Arlington County Parks and Natural Resources Division, had put out a call for help to the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, Tree Stewards, Remove Invasive Plants (RIP), Virginia Native Plant Society, and Arlington Master Naturalists, who responded in force, and with gusto!

Patrick and his crew had already removed invasives and re-planted the ornamental garden on the opposite side of the Trail, where Boy Scouts and a large corporation had lent their hands in order to protect the riparian buffer of Four Mile Run Stream at that site.  But the new planting was threatened by a constant influx of invasive seeds from the embankment nearby. This part of the trail is right off Wilson Boulevard, where it gets a lot of public traffic. People noticed the improvements that were made and had shown a lot of interest in the project, so completing both sides of the trail seemed like a good use of time and funds.

The Park and Natural Resources crew prepared the site by cutting down 20 foot high invasive Japanese honeysuckle and porcelain berry plants while preserving the natives that had been marked. On Saturday our task was to clear the embankment of dead stems, branches, vines, and roots – many of which were still deeply embedded in the ground – as well as rocks and trash. Working on the steep slope was a real challenge!

County landscape staff was on hand to help, and the county provided tools, equipment, and trucks as well.  A system of ID, mark, rake, and remove was quickly established.  As the piles of debris grew at the bottom of the slope, wheelbarrows were filled, pushed to the dumpsters and emptied. While the work went on, the volunteers made good use of the time multi-tasking by sharing information and networking. Who knows what future collaborations may be springing from ideas exchanged on that slope?

 By the end of the morning, two dumpsters were completely full, and the entire section had been cleared. A job well done!

MultitaskingOur president in search of any empty dumpsterRisky maneuvers

Patrick explained that the first planting will consist of annual and perennial rye grass in strenuous manouversorder to complete the eradication process. He said that if the eradication was sufficient, it was possible for the next phase to begin in October. His eyes sparkled as he described the bank’s new look: “drifts of native wildflowers and grasses; broom sedge, milkweed, little blue stem, black-eyed susans.” Instead of porcelain berry and honeysuckle. Thanks to all!

Suzanne Dingwell

Sign Up Now for Fall ARMN Training

Applications now being accepted for volunteer training for the Fall 2013 Class of Arlington Regional Master Naturalists

      You can make a difference in our community by becoming a Master Naturalist volunteer!  The Virginia Master Naturalist program trains volunteers to provide education, citizen science and outreach to conserve and manage natural resources and public lands.  Master Naturalist volunteers gain certification through state-approved natural history courses. Recognized experts in a wide range of disciplines such as ecology, botany, herpetology, ornithology, forest and aquatic ecosystems and much more provide fun and interactive training.  Volunteers must commit to at least 40 hours of service annually to become certified.

Arlington Regional Master Naturalists will be holding daytime training this fall, beginning September 9 through December 9, 2013 on Mondays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington, and at other locations around the county. (There will be no class on October 14 or November 11.) Classroom training will be scheduled for the morning with field training to follow in the afternoons.  Applications were due Monday, August 19, 2013; however, there are a few openings still available. If interested please send in your application as soon as possible.

For more information on the training curriculum, click on Basic Training on the home page. To  complete an application,click on Apply on the home page.

Virginia Master Naturalist programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.

May 4 ARMN-sponsored Invasive Plant Removal Events

Virginia Master Naturalist Invasive Plant Removal Day is Saturday May 4

ARMN is featuring three events to celebrate Virginia Invasive Plant Removal Day.  Join us at one of these events and bring your family and friends.

HOG – 9 am – 11 am

This is the second anniversary of our initial work day in the HOG area – Haley Park/Oakridge Elementary/Gunston Middle School Woods!  We started in 2011 with a big boost from local LDS church members, ARMN members, Master Gardeners, VNPS members and Arlington County.

Our woods is home to foxes, raccoons, hawks and many other birds.  It is also an outdoor classroom for the elementary school and the middle school.  Volunteers may be in time to see the blooming of the Pinxterbloom Azalea and the wild black cherry.  The area has been invaded by many exotic plants, notably Bush honeysuckle and Japanese honeysuckle, Wisteria, English Ivy, Euonymus, Porcelain Berry, Oriental Bittersweet, Multiflora rose, White Mulberry, Ailanthus etc. etc.  On May 4, we’ll focus on garlic mustard, now blooming, English ivy honeysuckle and others.

We especially need knowledgeable volunteers to help direct first-timers.  Wear long sleeves and pants, gloves and stout shoes with good soles.  The terrain is hilly, rough, and has patches of poison ivy and brambles!  Bring a refillable water bottle, and clippers or saw if you have them. The location is 2400 S. Meade St., Arlington VA.

Contact:  Jennifer Frum at 703-300-2496.

Isaac Crossman Park – 9 am to 1 pm

The focus in this park will be multi-flora rose, garlic mustard and English ivy.  Wear sturdy shoes, long pants and sleeves and perhaps a hat and bring a water bottle. Bring garden gloves and tools if you have them.  Training and additional tools will be provided.  Volunteers older than 9 years are welcome; a parent or guardian will be needed to sign the volunteer sing-in sheet for those under 18.  We will meet at the park entrance, 1900 Westmoreland St., near N Westmoreland St and 19th Rd N, Arlington.  Street parking is available. The closest metro stop is East Falls Church Metro Station.

Contact: Sarah Archer (571-237-3085), sarcher@arlingtonva.us.

Gulf Branch Nature Center – 10 am to 12 pm

Volunteers will sweep the park removing every evil garlic mustard plant we find! We are really starting to get it under control and I think this will be the year we turn the corner – so please join us! It’s recommended that volunteers bring water, a snack, sun screen & insect repellant. Wear sturdy shoes, long pants and long sleeves. Also bring work or gardening gloves if you have them. Onsite training will be provided for garlic mustard identification and removal techniques.

Gulf Branch Nature Center is located at 3608 Military Rd., Arlington.  Please park on Military Rd or 36th Rd, as our parking lot can only take a few cars. The nature center is ~150 feet down the driveway. Meet on the upper terrace.

Contact: Jennifer Soles (703-288-3403, jsoles@arlingtonva.us)

“The City Dark” Movie and Stargazing

Come view “The City Dark” at:

Long Branch Nature Center
625 S. Carlin Springs
Arlington, VA  22204

On this Wednesday, 7/18, 7:30-9pm, with stargazing after the film, weather permitting.

“Is darkness becoming extinct? When filmmaker Ian Cheney moves from rural Maine to New York City and discovers streets awash in light and skies devoid of stars, he embarks on a journey to America’s brightest and darkest corners, asking astronomers, cancer researchers and ecologists what is lost in the glare of city lights. Blending a humorous, searching narrative with poetic footage of the night sky, The City Dark provides a fascinating introduction to the science of the dark and an exploration of our relationship to  the stars. Winner, Best Score/Music Award, 2011 SXSW Film Festival. Produced in association with American Documentary | POV. ”  For more information on the film and to  see a trailer, visit http://www.pbs.org/pov/citydark/.

Free, but donations to the International Dark-Sky Association will be accepted.  Bring your own favorite movie munchies and (non-alcoholic) drinks.

Native Plant Sales

Spring is almost here which means it is the perfect time to enrich your garden and support the environment by planting some native plants in your garden!  There are many native plant sales in the region to check out:

Long Branch Nature Center Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 21, 1-3pm (rain date Sunday, 4/22)
625 S. Carlin Springs Rd, Arlington, VA  22204

Earth Sangha Native Ecotype Plant Sale
Sunday, May 6, 10am-2pm
Earth Sangha Wild Plant Nursery, Franconia Park, Springfield, VA

Green Spring Gardens Plant Sale
Saturday, May 12
4603 Green Spring Rd, Alexandria, VA

ParkFairfax Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 28, 9am-2pm
3601 Valley Dr., Alexandria, VA

Remove Ivy Campaign Kickoff – March 12 & 13, 2012

Tired of seeing lovely mature trees tortured by hideous vines?  Come learn how to use impactful messages, material, and strategies for inspiring our neighbors to remove English ivy from their trees! Through a grant from the Tree Canopy Fund, TreeStewards and Master Naturalists hired the nonprofit environmental communications firm Biodiversity Project to create and test materials for our campaign. That work is done and now we volunteers will learn how to use the material and conduct a wide campaign. Continue reading