Green Sanctuary – Restoring Our Grounds

At this week’s Annual Meeting, we will be voting to commit to pursue the goal of re-accreditation of our Green Sanctuary status. One of the goals is to “return RRUUC grounds to native plants and wildflowers”. This week’s blog tells the story of how we are making progress toward that goal. The Grounds Committee is seeking individuals to help us achieve that goal. Please reach out to me if you are interested. We will provide mentoring/coaching in invasive plant control and native plant gardening.

The first step in rehabilitating our grounds was to remove the large invasive vines choking our trees. An early priority were these Oriental bittersweet vines on a Walnut tree. Most of the vines were removed back in 2018.

A very labor intensive effort is removing the invasive ground cover, including English ivy, Creeping euonymus, Porcelain berry, and honey suckle. The left side of this photo shows where we removed the vines and planted a Wood fern. The right side shows move ivy that needs to be removed.

An important part of our effort is in creating pathways and spaces for our use. This area was constructed by Cole and Sam (RRUUC youth) for their Eagle Scout project.

Thomas, an RRUUC youth, completed his Eagle project constructing and installing these two bridges.

We relocated a number of log piles and created brush piles. These mushrooms appeared on the oldest log pile between Monday and Tuesday this week. Building our future soil!

Thanks to a generous donation from the Animal Ministry, we planted over 80 native wildflowers in our rear grounds area. This week we planted some Eastern Columbine, Solomon’s Seal, Lyre-Leaf Sage, American Alumroot, and Swamp Verbina. We purchased all of our wildflowers from Earth Sangha, a non-profit that runs a native plant nursery in Fairfax County. They use only “local ecotype” seed collected in Fairfax County. Thea, an RRUUC Youth, will be completing her Girl Scout Gold Award project this year, which includes planting and labeling the wildflowers in our rear grounds.

Thanks to another generous donation, we planted 20 native shrubs in our rear grounds area, including silky dogwood (above), Arrowwood viburnum, Maple-leaf viburnum, Witch hazel, Winterberry, American strawberry bush, Button bush, Bladder nut, and Dogwood (Cornus florida). Due to our numerous deer, we need to cage all of our young plants.

Last week we purchased and installed about 20 native shrubs along our new front path, including Oakleaf Hydrangea, Clethra, Silky dogwood, Arrowwood viburnum, and Chokeberry.

I think we are making great progress. Again, we are looking for folks to help with invasive plant removal and to expand our use of native plants on our grounds.

Stay cool,