By all accounts, the tree planting along the Town Branch stream on Saturday was a great success! Gem Bingol from Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) kicked off the event with an overview of the project, talking about the stream and how the riparian buffer will help improve water quality and describing the task that we would undertake of planting 204 native trees and shrubs and 144 native perennial wildflower plants.
She then turned it over to Jeff Wolinski, the consulting ecologist and wetlands expert, who helped plan and select the plant species that we’d be planting. He selected a great diversity of plants for this project which will not only benefit a wide variety of wildlife but also provide a more natural look to the restoration.
The tree and shrub species include 2 species of dogwoods, elderberry, 2 species of serviceberry, ironwood, hazelnut, river birch, hackberry, black gum, red maple, red bud, 3 species of oaks, and arrowwood. Among the perennials, they include monarda (Wild Bergamot) , eupatorium (Joe Pye), New York ironweed, coreopsis, senna, culver root, blue indigo, mountain mint, gayfeather, switchgrass, indiangrass, and blue vervain.
After giving a quick overview of the plants, Jeff demonstrated how to plant the trees and talked about fertilizer as well as the interrelationship between a beneficial fungus that grows in the soil and the plant roots.
Thankfully, Jeff, along with LWC’s Craig Himelright and Rocky Fera and a few others others spent Friday preparing for the planting by auguring the holes for the trees, getting the trees in place at each spot, bringing out the mulch and doing other preparations. This pre-work made the planting very straightforward, as volunteers could focus on planting the trees and mulching around them rather than digging the holes.
The work went quickly with over 50 volunteers from Piedmont Environmental Council, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and an energetic boy scout troop 998 jumping right in. Volunteers came prepared with work gloves for getting hands on with the planting. Shovels were provided to help break up soils and put it back around the trees as they were settled into their holes. With the rain that we had the last few days, the ground was very wet and a number of holes had filled with water over night making this a rather muddy but good planting. As the designated photographer for the event, I think I was the only one who left the event without muddy pants….not that I don’t enjoy playing in the dirt too 🙂
Eight people worked until 4pm doing the final wrap-up of putting deer protectors around the trees and watering the plants.
And, I’d be remiss in not calling out Neely Law from the Center for Watershed Protection for her great work. Neely was instrumental as she got the required permissions along with the Leesburg Town Council’s support for the project, including their agreement that the planting area would be a no-mow area so it could be a viable riparian buffer.
Thanks to all who supported this event! It was a great team effort and a wonderful showing of our care for the community! We met new people, shared stories and put in place a beautiful riparian habitat that will benefit our wildlife and provide enjoyment to all who live in and visit Leesburg.