ARMN sponsors third annual seed-cleaning extravaganza

By Rodney Olsen

On Feb. 4, Feb. 11, and Feb. 25, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm,

at Long Branch Nature Center,

ARMN will sponsor the equivalent of a quilting bee or a barn-raising.


ARMN-sponsored seed-cleaning event at Long Branch Nature Center. Photo by Rodney Olsen.

ARMN volunteers help with seed cleaning at Long Branch Nature Center.                      Photo by Rodney Olsen.

Please join the Monday gatherings of Master Naturalists for this vital service in support of our partner Earth Sangha.

  The experience will be educational and fun for all!

Join ARMN for MLK National Day of Service events

Throughout the year, ARMN volunteers contribute to a myriad of service activities that benefit our neighborhoods and communities. For Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, ARMN inivites you to join our dedicated volunteers to honor Dr. King’s legacy by participating in two of our focus service projects to restore habitat in Barcroft Park and in Tuckahoe Park.

Barcroft Park
January 19th at 9:30 am

Farrah and Brooke Alexander can barely be seen waving at the base of this "broccoli tree" that probably only had a few more years left before final choking.

Farrah and Brooke Alexander can barely be seen waving at the base of this “broccoli tree” that probably only had a few more years left before final choking. Autumn 2012, Barcroft Park.

Our main focus will be to clear ivy off the trees so that IPC (Invasive Plant Control), Arlington County’s contractor, will be able to efficiently treat the ivy remaining on the ground. After the clearing, Jim Hurley, ARMN Vice President and Chair of the Service Committee, will lead a walk to view the new plantings done in December and results of work done over the past year.

We will meet at the picnic pavilion in Barcroft Park at 9:30 am. If you park in the Barcroft recreational area  parking lot, walk past the soccer field, bear right and then cross the stream on the wood and steel bridge. Wear long pants and long sleeves. Bring gloves as well as handsaws and pruners if you have them. We will also supply gloves and tools, and garbage bags for trash pickup. If you are a little late and do not see us at the picnic pavilion, look for us near the bike path towards George Mason Drive past the power line. Continue reading

ARMN celebrates successes in 2012

By John Bernard and Jim Hurley

The Arlington Regional Master Naturalists (ARMN) had our monthly Board meeting and end-of-year Chapter meeting on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at the Fairlington Community Center. The Chapter meeting also included an art show and party. Over 60 people attended, including at least 54 ARMN members.

ARMN members brought and displayed their artwork which included photograph porfolios and other creations. After the business meeting, there was time for socializing with lots of goodies

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Caroline Haynes, ARMN President, recognized numerous newly certified and recertified ARMN members for completing the minimum 40 hours of service and 8 hours of advanced training in 2012.

Erik Oberg, National Park Service (NPS) Ranger and Biologist, presented the George and Helen Hartzog Award plaque for Outstanding Volunteer Group to the ARMN Board. The Hartzog Award was awarded to ARMN on October 17, 2012 by the Eastern Capital Region of NPS.

The Hartzog Award recognizes volunteers for their hard work, skills, involvement, and contributions to innovative projects. ARMN members and other volunteers have given 2,600 hours of service to the George Washington Memorial Parkway since the partnership began in 2009. Opportunities to volunteer with the Park Service are described on its website. The NPS and ARMN relationship is a great example of the meaningful results that can be achieved by effective partnerships between government agencies and non-profit groups. Continue reading

Happenings in Tuckahoe Park

By Mary McLean

Thanks to four volunteers, we cleared invasive plants from the edge of the Sycamore and Lee Highway on Nov. 17. This project is part of Arlington County sponsored Habitat Restoration. Master Naturalist, Melanie La Force, is working on her own to remove porcelain berry and English Ivy on the Sycamore Road side of Tuckahoe. Say “hello” if you pass her some morning.

My current focus (besides trash) is the ground ivy that threatens to overwhelm the flowering native plants put in the park by Eagle Scout Jacob Heidig.

ARMN members can earn volunteers hours helping with Tuckahoe Park Habitat Restoration, sponsored by Arlington County, RIP- Remove Invasive Plants, and ARMN. Volunteers meet in front of Tuckahoe Elementary School at 10 am every 3rd Saturday of each month. All ages are welcome, but adult presence is required for volunteers under 16. To participate, contact: Sarah Archer or Mary McLean

On Saturday, Dec. 15, I’m offering a discussion and demonstration on leading a hike in Tuckahoe Park. The theme is “Dangerous Plants, Discover the dangerous plants in Tuckahoe Park.” We will also discuss the protocols for priorities of invasive removal and observe the evidence of the successes of invasive removal and natural regeneration.

After the hike, we will put our knowledge and muscles to work removing Bush Honeysuckle using a weed wrench. Those not “wrenching” will use the Tree Steward’s guide to English Ivy removal on trees.

Saturday, Dec. 15 at Tuckahoe Park, Arlington (near East Falls Church Metro)

8:30-9:00 am – Discussion: “How to lead a hike”

9:00-9:45 am –  Hike & Discussion: “Dangerous Plants”

10 am – Habitat Restoration: weed wrenching and tree ivy removal


Power of Passion and Persistence

By Sue Dingwell

The power of passion and persistence brought to life a new wetland last Saturday at Campbell Elementary School, a Title One, alternative school bordering Long Branch Park in Arlington. Two and a half years in the planning and fund-raising stage, the garden was installed by an all-volunteer crew at an event they called “The Big Plant.” The sun seemed to shine with a special brilliance as proud students threw their energy into the myriad tasks needed to get plants correctly placed and tucked safely into the spots marked for them.

That little girl dug tenaciously for a long time to get hole big enough for long-sleeved oak tree.

One of this fall’s Master Naturalist training class members, Pat Findiklogu, a teacher at Campbell for many years, formed a small committee three years ago to set the project in motion. She was on hand Saturday to help with the work despite the fact that she had retired from teaching last spring. The story of the permitting and permissions process  was an epic indeed. There were many times when regulatory hurdles almost brought the project to a halt. I heard from a committee member, though, that every time they thought they were at a dead end, Pat would rally the troops: “They’re not going to stop us now!!” Continue reading

Flowers Come to Tuckahoe Park

By Mary McLean

Thanks to Eagle Scout Jacob Heidig, Tuckahoe Park now has beautiful blue, red, and yellow flowers to admire. These plants (listed below) provide the best natural source of food and nectar for beautiful butterflies, goldfinch, and hummingbirds.

Blue lobelia planted at Tuckahoe Park by Jacob Heidig for his Eagle Scout Service Project.

In June, guided by a plan he developed, Jacob led a team of high school Boy Scouts, two younger brothers, and the Eagle Scout’s dad. After pulling out weeds, they planted the flowers in the “No Mow” zone of Tuckahoe Park. You can recognize the area by the logs surrounding it.

Kevin Stallica, the Parks Manager for Tuckahoe, approved the plan and chose just the right kinds of plants to provide beautification to the park. Arlington Parks donated over 60 plants. Earth Sangha grew these native plants that originated a similar spot in northern Virginia.

The Master Naturalist volunteer for Tuckahoe, Mary McLean, coordinates community volunteers who want to help these beautiful flowers. Volunteer neighbors worked this September 13 from 9:00-1:00 to remove weeds choking the flowers. Now the flowers are easier to see and enjoy. Continue reading

Virginia Master Naturalist Photo Contest – 9/4/12 Update

9/4/12 Contest update – Voting is closed.

The winners are:

Flora – Chelone turtlehead flower with bumble bee by Catherine Howell

Fauna – Dragonfly by Christine Friedel

Thanks to our photographers and to everyone who voted!


The annual 2012 Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer Conference and Training is just around the corner. From September 7-9, members from Master Naturalist chapters across the state will gather to share ideas and learn from each other, to participate in high-quality advanced training sessions, and to learn about a region of Virginia that may be different from their home communities.  Each chapter has been asked to submit two photos, one of native Virginia flora and one of native Virginia fauna, to a contest to be judged during the conference. Continue reading

ARMN Invasive Plant Species Education Volunteer Opportunities Intersect at PORP

By John Bernard

Several endeavors by Arlington Regional Master Naturalist (ARMN) on education of invasive plant species and alternatives converge at Potomac Overlook Regional Park (PORP). One is the ARMN Audubon at Home (AAH) focus summer project which had its kick off meeting on June 24 at ARMN’s native plant garden after “Meet Me On A Sunday” at PORP. The program included AAH ambassadors and potential future ambassadors with a schedule of site visits to ARMN member yards.

ARMN members gathered to hear from Joanne Hutton (ARMN, MGNV),
Kathy Landis (ARMN, Landscape Designer), Alan Ford (President, Potomac
Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, Terry Liercke (Audubon Society of
Northern Virginia), and Cliff Fairweather (Long Branch Nature Center) about
ways to create habitat-friendly yards using native plants.

Garden creators Joanne Hutton and Kathy Landis gave an overview of the AAH focus project and a tour of the shade garden to show ways to enhance habitat.

Good table top display and training references for the program.

Continue reading

Earth Sangha Spring Native Plant Sale Success

By Rodney Olsen

May 2012 Native Plant Sale. Photo by Earth Sangha.

The Earth Sangha Native Plant Sale, co-sponsored by Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, occurred on May 6 and was a great success.  Following the dictum that “good news is never old news,” here is account of the sale by Lisa Bright, Executive Director of Earth Sangha.

“Our spring plant sale, on Sunday, May 6, at our Wild Plant Nursery, was a huge success! We raised over $15,500, nearly all of it for restoration work in Fairfax County parkland. Hundreds of our plants found homes in local gardens. We also saw many old friends, and we made a lot of new ones as well. About 130 herbaceous and 85 woody species were on offer, all of them grown by us from locally-collected wild seed. About 160 people bought plants. Visitors also had a chance to buy packages of the Sangha’s Rising Forests Coffee, which is produced by the farmers in our Tree Bank / Hispaniola program. We sold over $1,000 worth of coffee—our largest one-day coffee sale by far. Overall, the sale was a record fundraiser for us and a substantial gain over last fall’s sale, which made a little under $8,500. (Last fall’s sale was our previous record). The success was largely due to all our hard-working nursery volunteers, especially our Arlington Regional Master Naturalist colleagues, who put many hours into preparing for the event. We are very grateful to all our nursery volunteers—and to all the patrons of our sale. We hope to see everyone again at the fall sale!”

Pollinator Garden at Gulf Branch Nature Center

By Sue Dingwell

“If you are just growing nectar plants, you are borrowing somebody else’s butterflies,” says Jennifer Soles, “If you grow host plants, you are making your own butterflies!” This message was conveyed with verve and passion to visitors to Gulf Branch Nature Center’s Pollinator Garden last Sunday. The garden, filled with native plants, was a popular stop on Arlington’s Green Homes and Gardens tours, judging by the rapt attention displayed by those who stopped by to learn and listen.

The pollinator garden is across the road from the entrance to the park.

Jennifer Soles explains the benefits of native plants.

Between visitors Jennifer related the garden’s background story, which has followed the well-known progression of ‘the fist year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year, it leaps.” Monarch butterflies found the garden in the very first year and all the milkweed was eaten down to the ground. Jennifer despaired, but the second year, the milkweed came back, along with the other plants they had installed, and everything began to fill in. They had some trouble from aphids briefly, that year, but the predators appeared and kept them under control. This year, the garden is simply bursting with life, plants and pollinators alike are present and thriving. Continue reading