Monthly Archives: August 2015

Natives are a Girl’s Best Friend (Forever)

Diamonds, emeralds, rubies?  No thanks, Dahlink, what I prefer is plants.  Native plants, Dahlink.  My treasures are not found in any jewelry store or at the nearest mall.  No, no.  My favorite gems are on display in the rapidly diminishing wild areas here and there across our land.  And I keep some in my secret jewelry box: my garden.

Jewels in my garden. A hummingbird clearwing moth, Hemaris thysbe, feeds on the nectar of the pollinator magnet wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa.

More gems. A damselfly rests on a stalk of little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, a pretty fall-blooming native grass.

Yes, I could be charmed with much more expensive, sparkly — but ultimately useless — stuff.  “You know it could be much worse,” I tell my sweetie, my arms cradling freshly purchased perennials.  And he agrees.  He knows a tiara would rest uneasily on my head.  I am no princess.  I’m a fierce warrior woman when it comes to conservation.

Quite Affordable

Native plants are necessary for our survival.  It’s a fact.  Science says so.  And considering what natives provide, they’re surprisingly affordable.  Bank accounts need not be bled dry to add these essentials to any landscape.  But wait, there’s more!  As a bonus many of our natives give back.  They self-sow, sometimes insanely, finding and filling garden space and asking for no more than some time and patience.  Sharing the bounty with friends and neighbors is also self-fulfilling.

So Go Native!  Thanks, Dahlink, you’re my BFF.

Native Plants for the Penny-Wise

Sticker shock.  That term is usually associated with purchasing a car but it can happen when shopping for plants, too.  Plants can be fairly pricey — especially those larger-sized garden center trees and shrubs.  The cringe factor is multiplied when landscaping sizable areas.  But do you need such a large plant to begin with?  I say absolutely no, you don’t.

Start Small

If you have a little patience it’s a sensible idea to purchase a smaller, younger plant for a fraction of the cost.  In short time, that whip of a sapling will be the size of the tempting five-gallon container of greenery you wisely passed over.  And it will probably be healthier.  Seasoned gardeners know that the joy of tending a garden is in nurturing, observing and in watching life grow.  No instant garden is needed.

Cheerful woodland poppies at a native plant sale.

Cheerful woodland poppies at a native plant sale.

What Grows In Your Area?

Common garden shops, besides shrinking your wallet, offer very few native species.  When they do have them in stock, these natives aren’t necessarily found naturally growing where you garden – they’ve evolved in other regions of the country.  The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is no longer a sound tool to measure what to plant.  It’s simple: we just plant local-ecotypes – and as many as we possibly can.  We know that planting natives local to an area, in the conditions they evolved in, lowers water and chemical inputs and makes for strong, thriving plants.  California is the perfect example.  Many homeowners are replacing non-local landscaping and lawn with plants that originated there to offset the current multi-year drought’s effects. Continue reading

Virginia Pesticide Disposal Program 2015 — Free!


Free and safe disposal of unwanted and outdated pesticides is available to homeowners and commercial businesses September 15 at Merrifield Garden Center, 12101 Lee Hwy, Fairfax (the Fairfax location, NOT in Merrifield) 9am-1:00pm. Other dates and locations are also collecting. This event happens only once every 5 years. The 2010 collection disposed of over 13,500 pounds of pesticides, weed & feed products and herbicides! Why not consider “going organic” and ridding homes, garden sheds and garages (waterways, wildlife habitats and gardens too!) of these expensive, dangerous and unnecessary chemicals. Please check with the Office of Pesticide Services for more information and a list of acceptable items. This program is sponsored by VTech, VSU, Va Dept of Agriculture and the VA Cooperative Extension. Please share this information with others. Thanks!, Julie Liu, Fairfax County Master Gardener.

Adria Bordas, Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources, mentioned that the form need not be filled out if a person is turning in a low volume of pesticides. Please note: Pesticides include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and rodenticides.

Here’s the disposal brochure/form with state-wide collection dates.

Thanks to grand neighbor and friend, Julie, for sending me this pesticide disposal information.