Wild Crabapple, purple passion flower, and state-rare frosted hawthorns are just a few of the plants sprouting in Arlington County’s Native Plant Nursery. These little seedlings have been propagated and tended by County staff and volunteers since last fall, or in the case of the frosted hawthorn, since spring of 2015! Some seeds, particularly for woody species like trees and shrubs may take up to 2 or 3 years to even germinate. That’s what makes it so exciting that we now have multiple species of oak as well as native paw paw (both may take up to two years to germinate) coming up from last year’s fall planting!
More expected, but no less welcome, are some of the shrub and herbaceous species that we collected the seed for and propagated last fall. Species coming up right now in the nursery include swamp rose and possumhaw viburnum. We also have a large amount of newly sprouted plants like butterfly weed, common milkweed, false indigo bush, wild blue lettuce, goldenrod, Joe-Pye weed and goldenrod. We also have grasses such as purple top, sugarcane plumegrass and Virginia wild rye.
We are very pleased with the number of plants coming up, but even more promising is that the nursery itself will be expanding this spring! We are planning on doubling the size of the area dedicated to the nursery and installing three more propagation beds. Once again, we will be relying on volunteers to help with the construction and other activities to prepare the beds. Another exciting development for the nursery is that the Parks and Natural Resources Division welcomed a new staff member, Scott Graham, as our first-ever Natural Resource Technician. Among other stewardship field activities, Scott will be responsible for the day to day maintenance of the nursery, including watering and weeding the new seedlings. These new plants are destined for planting in some of the County’s habitat restoration sites throughout the County. For more information about the efforts at Arlington County’s Native Plant Nursery and how to get involved, please contact the Natural Resource Management Unit at 703-228-1862.