Native Plants Demonstration Garden Dedication

By Joanne Hutton

Variety of ground covers, ferns at the Demonstration Garden, Potomac Overlook Park.
Photo by K. Landis.

We look forward to seeing as many of you who can come to the dedication of our new demonstration garden showing off native plants suitable for backyards on Sunday, May 6th, at the annual May Day Fair at Potomac Overlook Regional Park.  The dedication will take place tentatively at 2:30 p.m. with Mary Hynes, Chair of the Arlington County Board, in attendance and doing honors.  We hope to have a tree planting as part of the ceremony and celebration of our new ARMN focus project.

To prepare the area for this high-profile event, please come out on Friday morning, May 4th, 9:30 – noon or as long as you can, for a work party and training about the plants we’ve included in the design.  We have invasives to remove, mulching, and raking to do.  When we’re done, I will show off the box of informational materials on invasive and native plants developed for Meet Me on a Sunday, and we’ll talk about how to interpret the garden or host a short tour even if you don’t consider yourself an “expert.”  This will be especially appropriate for any of you folks in training as Audubon at Home Ambassadors. Continue reading

Everyday is Earth Day for ARMN Volunteers

By Monique Wong

“Everyday is Earth Day for ARMN volunteers,” Robin Davis, ARMN Outreach Committee Chair, remarked at the April ARMN Board Meeting.

How right she is! Since ARMN’s mission is to provide environmental education, research, citizen science, outreach, and stewardship of Virginia natural resources and public lands, everyday is indeed Earth Day for all ARMN members.

Wherever you are volunteering your time on Earth Day 2012, enjoy your day, rain or shine!  E-mail to share photos, including the name of the photographer and a caption of your Earth Day 2012 volunteer service.

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Alexandria Neighborhood Presentation on Choking Hazard Campaign

By Christine Matthews

My neighborhood in Alexandria (Beverley Hills), which borders Monticello Park, is known for its beautiful mature trees. Unfortunately, storms, age, and construction have claimed many of them and English ivy threatens to overtake many that remain. So, I was happy to be able to put my training from the Choking Hazard campaign to good use at the April meeting of our citizens’ association ( Using the Powerpoint template on the website as a guide, I created a presentation incorporating photos and details from our neighborhood. Given the casual nature of the meeting and the evening’s prior presentations, I opted not to set up my computer and projector and just talked about the Choking Hazard campaign using the handout as a guide.

The 30 or so people in the room were highly receptive and most were aware of the damage ivy can do to trees. Continue reading

Meet Me On A Sunday At Potomac Overlook Park

By John Bernard

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Arlington Regional Master Naturalists (ARMN) partners with regional parks for great volunteer outreach opportunities.  One such weekly outreach is Meet Me on a Sunday at the Potomac Overlook Park in North Arlington run by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.  Among numerous activities on this beautiful Easter Sunday, I joined fellow Master Naturalist Nancy Bagwell at the park from 1:30 – 3:30 to talk to visitors about a couple of subjects dear to our hearts.

First, Nancy shared her knowledge of hawks, owls, and other raptors and birds with guests using some great exhibits.  She generated a lot of interest from park visitors.  Second, not as jazzy, but just as important, I spoke to passing visitors regarding invasive plant species.  Continue reading

ARMN First Anniversary of Barcroft Park Invasive Pull

By Jim Hurley

Dedicated volunteers help monthly with Barcroft Park Invasive Pull, an important ARMN Focus Project. Photo by R. Ayres.

The March invasive pull was the first anniversary of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist monthly focus work on Barcroft Park.  Having bought coffee and doughnuts (hint, hint), I arrived to the area of Barcoft Park we were going to work on an hour before start time to tag Multiflora Rose stems for clipping and digging.

But what was this?  Blue dye on the Rose?  And then in the same area, blue dye on Japanese Honeysuckle?

Up to twenty people were about to show up to work on the area.  And after that, another twenty members of the current Master Naturalist training class were scheduled to arrive for two more hours of work.  What were we to do? Continue reading

Backyard Nature Photography

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By Monique Wong

When Christine Freidel moved into her home near Potomac Overlook Park five year ago, she inherited a typical suburban lawn in her backyard.  Inspired by the book “Bringing Nature Home,” Christine applied her training as a Master Naturalist and spent two years introducing native species to her backyard.

“We spotted butterflies and dragonflies almost immediately,” said Christine, “and during the first summer, different birds came to visit the native plants.  Ruby-throated hummingbirds, for example, love to nectar on our bright red Cardinal flowers.”

An avid photographer since high school, Christine enjoys nature photography.  Continue reading

Calling All Tree-Loving Master Naturalists

By Nora Palmatier

Tree Canopy Fund

YOU have a great opportunity to get native canopy trees planted in your Arlington neighborhood – last year the Tree Canopy Fund got 515 trees planted, including 61 Nyssa sylvatica, 110 Quercus species, and 45 Betula nigras!  All of the information you need to start planning is on the ACE website at the link below.  It is a group application – you’ll have to recruit in your neighborhood, church or temple, or just your block.

Last year, everywhere I saw a space that cried out for a tree, I left a flyer promoting the program and my email and phone number.  This year, I am targeting all the garden apartments around Westover with the goal of getting 20 more trees planted.  Continue reading

Save My Neighbor’s Virginia Pine

By Leigh Pickering

I’d like to share a story to remind Master Naturalists how important it is to advocate for trees in our neighborhoods.

Recently, a builder began to construct a new home on a lot across the street from the Walter Reed Firehouse.  On the corner is a huge (for the species) mature Virginia Pine.

This Virginia Pine shall live!
Photo by L. Pickering.

I watched this project and one day I saw pink tape around the tree.  Fearing the worst, I took my tree ID book and a clipboard (for show) over to the site and asked to speak the the boss on the site.  I was pointed to the builder who happened to be building the house for himself.

I introduced myself as one of his future neighbors and said I noticed that he had taped the tree.  He said that he was thinking about cutting it, because he felt it was “scraggly” and uneven and had decided to take it down.  I told him that it was a Virginia Pine and that it was actually huge and well-formed for its species.  Continue reading

Tree Lovers’ Dream Project: Arlington County Street Tree Inventory

By Kathy Philpott Costa

On March 13, a group of volunteers made up of Arlington Master Naturalists, Tree Stewards and Americorps members met with Arlington County Forester Vincent Verweij for basic training on how to conduct a street tree inventory. These volunteers will soon contribute to an ambitious project to update information on more than 21,000 street trees in Arlington County–including more than 1,000 empty planting spots–in its database.

The County’s street trees are those that have been designated as County-owned and are in a County right-of-way, or along the edge of streets and sidewalks.  Trees on private, federal or state property are not Arlington “street trees.”  Volunteers were interested to learn that Arlington County’s ownership of its street trees stands in contrast to much of Virginia, where the Virginia Department of Transportation owns and maintains most spaces adjacent to streets.  Needless to say, local ownership leaves the County with an overwhelming responsibility to maintain its trees and plant new ones where old ones are removed. Continue reading

Choking Hazard – English Ivy Threatens Virginia’s Trees

By Caroline Haynes

ARMN volunteer removes English ivy off a suffocating tree. Photo by R. Olsen.

To the passing eye, English ivy seems like a lovely little green plant. But, it is actually a serious threat to the beautiful trees that give yards and neighborhoods shade and character.

Ivy strangles trees. It can accelerate tree rot by holding moisture close to the tree bark, while also stealing the trees’ nutrients and water. This aggressive little green plant can actually cause mature trees to fall down during storms by adding massive weight to overburdened branches.

“Our trees add financial value to our properties and quality to our lives. Continue reading