For the last couple of years, Arlington’s Parks and Recreation Department has been having a volunteer day where almost all our staff get together to volunteer a day of work and perform some team building and networking. Last year, the theme was very much environmental centered all around Arlington’s nature centers. Project choices included a stream cleanup, milkweed seed cleaning, removal of invasive shrubs, tree planting, native plant garden work, and a restoration meadow planting. While they were all a success (you can see a few of the projects in action here), I’d like to expand on the meadow planting.
The site chosen for creating a wild flower meadow was along the entrance to Long Branch Nature Center, at a site that had been treated for exotic invasive plants. Natural Resources staff pre-placed 580 pots, in small patches, representing 24 different native species for planting. The plants were all germinated from seed collected in the Arlington area, so these were about as locally native as you could get. Four-fifths of the plants were actually grown in the County’s new native plant nursery.
The day of the event was in late October of last year. County staff volunteers planted all 580 plants and then helped to water them in place. It took the better part of the day as the ground was fairly hard and there were quite a few plants. We knew we would not see any results until the next year. That the deer were already munching on them the day we placed the pots out was also less than encouraging, but we had every intention of watching them succeed, forming a wild flower meadow, a pollinator patch that we got certified as a Monarch Way Station and living up to the County’s Monarch Pledge as well.