Tucked in a sliver of land in a county park, Earth Sangha’s Native Plant Nursery stands out as a leader in the conservation of native plants. I helped staff and volunteers pull invasive stiltgrass and porcelain berry at Rutherford Park. Then I visited the nursery to talk with conservation manager Matt Bright about other recent projects. Here’s what I learned, as reported in the September issue of Plantings.
On September 8, 2022, the rain paused and 25 soon-to-be master naturalists descended along the trail to Lubber Run. Let the discoveries begin!
Here’s what I found.
More coming soon …
In master naturalist training we identified trees by looking at their shape, bark, leaves and seeds. While hiking near Barcroft’s bog, we found oaks and poplars growing tall above a thriving poison sumac. Be aware, and if you’re in doubt about a plant, don’t touch or taste! Poet Jacqueline Jules stresses the importance of learning our plant IDs — and watching out for poison ivy!
by Jacqueline Jules
I beg you. Reconsider preconceived notions and identify the difference. Three together. Mitten shaped. Small stem on the center leaf. Pointed tips. Shiny. White berries. Not the same as Virginia Creeper and its cluster of five. Do a little research. You’ll find most are harmless. Don’t despise every green vine gracing the path because one or two produce a nasty itch.
“Identfying Ivy” copyright by Jacqueline Jules — printed with permission of the poet
Read more poetry by Jacqueline Jules at Metaphorical Truths.
For help with identifying plants and animals, submit a photo to INaturalist. Researchers and citizen scientists (and even people like me!) use the posted data to learn more about our world.
In the Washington, D.C. region Alonso Abugattas posts observations about animals and plants and answers questions on his blog, the Capital Naturalist.
If you were an animal in the rain forest, would you be a butterfly? A toucan? An iguana? A jaguar?
In art club after school, Carlin Springs students painted a wild setting for the spring play. They discovered inspiring scenes of forest canopies in books from the Arlington County Library, including Little Kids First Big Book of the Rain Forest by Moira Rose Donohue, The Amazon by Tom Jackson and What’s Up in the Amazon Rain Forest by Ginjer L. Clarke.
Students wrote the script and acted as animals alarmed by changes in their habitat. Katie McCreary and Ashley Hammond of the Educational Theatre Company led the writers and directed the performance — all in the spirit of learning through the arts!
With sleet and snow blowing across Arlington streets, the birds have disappeared from sight. Looking for inspiration, kids in art club discovered the Audubon Society’s North American field guide. Their imaginations took off with drawings of colorful owls, finches, hummingbirds, tanagers and flamingos.
In a box with books from my childhood, I found a paperback published in 1948 by the Iowa State College Extension Service. It includes information on 24 birds with drawings and instructions for coloring. Never miss an opportunity to use your color pencils!
On the crow, authors Thomas Scott and George Hendrickson wrote, “The ability of this crafty creature to perform such misdeeds as eating bird eggs, pulling corn and the like is due to its high degree of social cooperation. Although these birds are with us all year they are seen at their best in the large flocks which form in groves during the winter.” (page 20)
I hope your neighborhood is full of feathered neighbors. It’s not too late to put out birdseed. This handbook says cardinals prefer to feed off the ground and like seed plus a little fruit and insects.
I’ll have to wait to see rosebuds. Snow’s predicted tonight. In the meantime the Library of Congress is celebrating with Spring Fling pop-up exhibits, music and tours. Everyone’s invited!
Do poets wander alone “scribbling in notebooks, peering across moors, feeding ducks…?” In “Mary Oliver and the Naturesque,” Alice Gregory suggests that Oliver writes and invites us to ramble with her. As the poet says, “the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting.”
So … yesterday I wandered. After watching reports of far away blizzards, I followed sidewalks dusted with snow. It was my first time out taking photos, because last October I chipped a bone in my foot. Since I am just beginning to paint again, I’m posting this sketch.
Gregory’s article appeared in Poetry magazine on February 16, 2011.
A recipe for July watercolors:
- Step out to the backyard garden.
- Pick a few turnips and bring bring them to school.
- Take out the paints, brushes, paper and containers of water.
- Look at all the different greens and purples on the plants. See how the leaves curve in and out. Which part of the turnip grows underground? Why is the root purple?
Could your paintings also show the soil, the surrounding plants, and the animals that visit the garden?
For more ideas for school projects in the garden, check GreenSTEM Learning by Mary Van Dyke.
And if you’ll be in Arlington, Virginia, in October attend the 2017 Virginia Agriculture Summit.
No, say it isn’t so! The Great Barrier Reef is in trouble.
This year the kids at Carlin Springs Elementary School dove down under to visit the reef — all in their imagination. Inspired by their adventure, young actors created a play and young artists designed the backdrop. Together we admired a host of beautiful sea creatures, especially those in Here is the Coral Reef by Madeleine Dunphy and in Great Barrier Reef by David Doubilet. Ashley Hammond and Colleen Murphy of the Educational Theatre Company directed the performers, and Angel Lopez and I coached the artists.
Long live the reef!
Photo copyright Liz Macklin 2017