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April Meeting

VNPS Potowmack News

Check our Events Calendar for all upcoming events.  Events posted here generally reflect the next upcoming VNPS Potowmack chapter happening.

Newsletters for download are here.

Monthly Meeting April 10th

posted Apr 2, 2014, 10:24 PM by Marty Nielsen

Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve:

Restoring a Primeval Wilderness in the D.C. Area



Thursday, April 10

7:30 - 9:00 pm


Green Spring Gardens

4603 Green Spring Road

Alexandria, VA  22312

703 642-5173


 VNPS programs are free and open to the public.  No reservations are necessary for   this presentation.



Naturalist Louis Halle called Dyke Marsh “the nearest thing to primeval wilderness in the immediate vicinity of the city.”  It is one of the last large tracts of freshwater tidal marsh along the Potomac River, and is one of the most biologically diverse habitats in the Washington, D.C. region.  The marsh is home to 300 known species of plants, 6,000 arthropods, 38 fish, 16 reptiles, 14 amphibians and over 270 species of birds.  It is the only site in the upper Potomac River zone with a breeding population of marsh wrens and has state-threatened breeding populations of least bitterns.  The state-threatened river bulrush is common in the marsh.


U.S. Geological Survey scientists have concluded that 1.5 to two acres of wetlands are vanishing every year, a rate so severe that Dyke Marsh will be gone in 10 to 20 years.  Dredging reduced what was once 200 acres of emergent marsh to 83 acres and destabilized the whole system, spurring the loss of another 23 acres.  Today fewer than 60 acres remain.  The National Park Service is proposing a restoration plan to stabilize and restore the marsh. 

Friends of Dyke Marsh President and VNPS member Glenda Booth will describe Dyke Marsh, its significance, the NPS restoration goals and the importance of wetlands and wetlands restoration.

Turkey Run with Cris Fleming 4/12

posted Mar 27, 2014, 2:34 PM by Marty Nielsen

Spring in the Potomac Gorge:

A field trip with Cris Fleming


Saturday, April 12

9:00 am to 1:00 pm


Turkey Run Park

George Washington National Parkway

McLean, VA


VNPS programs are free and open to the public.

Reservations are required for field trips.


 Join chapter Botany Chair Cris Fleming for a walk through one of our area’s best spring wildflower displays.  Famous for the spectacular show of Virginia bluebells along the Potomac River, Turkey Run Park also harbors other early spring flowers such as dwarf ginseng, swamp buttercup, wild geranium, sessile trillium, perfoliate bellwort and many others.  Participants need to be able to walk the zig-zag trail down the steep hillside and to cross the creek on rocks (there will be helping hands).  Depending on bloom status, we may see the very early bloomers like harbinger of spring.  The normal early bloomers may not yet be in full bloom.


Large oaks, beech, tuliptree, basswood, sugar maple and other mature trees form an exceptionally fine hardwood forest at Turkey Run.  A well-developed floodplain, rocky bluffs, and deep ravines are habitats of this 200 acre park.


Details and starting point for the walk will be sent to registered

participants.  Please RSVP to https://vnps20140412.eventbrite.com.  Space is limited.



Fraser Preserve with Margaret Chatham April 6th

posted Mar 27, 2014, 2:32 PM by Marty Nielsen

Early Spring at Fraser Preserve

A Field Trip with Margaret Chatham


Sunday, April 6 - 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Fraser Preserve, Great Falls, VA


VNPS programs are free and open to the public, but registration for field trips is required due to limited space. 

Details and starting point for the walk will be sent to registered participants. 

Please RSVP to https://vnps20140406.eventbrite.com.




What a winter! Come warm up with an energetic walk with Margaret Chatham and see what spring wildflowers we can find at Fraser Preserve, a Nature Conservancy property at the north end of Springvale Road in Great Falls.


Spring beauties in vast numbers, pawpaw, spicebush and Virginia bluebells are guaranteed, and we’ll also look for yellow corydalis, purple cress, bloodroot, and whatever else may show up.  The walk will be about 3 miles, including 3 steepish climbs.  There are no facilities open to us at Fraser.


Leader:  Margaret Chatham is a Potowmack Chapter Board Member, a story-teller and a long-time volunteer at Fraser Preserve.

New Chapter Website!!!

posted Mar 18, 2014, 1:06 PM by Marty Nielsen

Check out the new chapter website at http://vnps.org/potowmack/ - this will soon replace this website.

Flora of Virginia Exhibition

posted Mar 18, 2014, 12:55 PM by Marty Nielsen

A new exciting exhibition has been created on the history and development of our new Flora of Virginia.

This exhibit will be on display at the Library of Virginia from March 17th through September 13th.

Check out the flyer on the state-wide website:  http://vnps.org/download/floraexhibitionflyer.pdf

Early Spring Bud Break at Doves Landing

posted Mar 14, 2014, 12:09 PM by Marty Nielsen

The Potowmack and Prince William Chapters of the Virginia Native Plant Society invite you to the following event:

Early Spring Bud Break at Doves Landing

Field Trip with Carrie Blair


Saturday, March 29, 2014

1 pm to 4:00 pm

Manassas, Virginia


VNPS programs are free and open to the public, but registration for field trips is required due to limited space. Details and starting point for the walk will be sent to registered participants. We will be meeting at a nearby location and carpooling to the park.

Please RSVP to https://vnps20140329.eventbrite.com.



We will study trees and other woody plants, bud, leaf and flower development and any emerging native wildflowers from an upland forest down to a floodplain extending along the Occoquan River.  There will be a brief introduction with hand-outs of terms and illustrations in the parking lot before carpooling to the site.  Waterproof boots are recommended.  Binoculars, hand lens and walking stick for a stream crossing would be helpful.  We will plan for about 3 hours including the carpooling time, but may go over if there is interest.

Our Leader:

Carrie Blair has been a board member of Piedmont Chapter for 18 years and President for 5 years.  She has been studying trees for nearly 40 years, and has served as a Virginia Master Naturalist and a Front Royal/Warren County Tree Steward, since 2010.  She has volunteered as a docent at the State Arboretum of Virginia at the Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, Virginia for 20 years and has led hundreds of tree identification walks and classes.  Carrie has lived in the Marshall, Virginia area for 40 years and knows the land intimately by walking or riding horses.  Her home has five acres of gardens, a wildflower meadow and woods with over 100 species of trees and shrubs.


The Site:

Doves Landing is a new 235-acre Prince William County park located along the Occoquan River, extending a mile eastward from the confluence of Cedar Run and Broad Run upstream of Lake Jackson in Prince William County.  It provides access to a view of this beautiful river, and the gently sloping landscape and open forest comprise a moderate walk.  The site includes a one-mile buffer along the river and encompasses high quality wetland areas, significant floodplains and upland forests within the Occoquan Reservoir watershed.  The park has not yet been officially opened to the public pending a new entrance and parking lot.  In the meantime, the property has remained vacant, protecting the buffer along the river, which flows into the Occoquan Reservoir.  Doves Landing is centrally located in the county, one mile from the intersection of Prince William Parkway and Route 234.

Invasive Grasses in Virginia: Wavyleaf Basketgrass

posted Feb 21, 2014, 7:15 AM by Marty Nielsen

The Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society invites you to our March lecture, the third of our 2014 series “Celebrating the Grasses of VA”:

Invasive Grasses in Virginia:

The New Monster—Wavyleaf Basketgrass



Thursday, March 13

7:30 - 9:00 pm


Green Spring Gardens

4603 Green Spring Road

Alexandria, VA

703 642-5173


VNPS programs are free and open to the public.

No reservations are necessary for lectures.




In this lecture, Kevin Heffernan will speak on the established and new threats to our natural spaces from exotic grasses.  He will cover numerous invaders, with a focus on Virginia’s “New Monster”, Wavyleaf Basketgrass.  Early detection is critical to the control of these invasive destroyers, so come and learn to identify them and learn what to do if you discover them.


Kevin Heffernan is the Stewardship Biologist for the Natural Area Stewardship Division of Virginia DCR’s Natural Heritage Division.   The Natural Heritage Stewardship Section focuses on maintaining and enhancing the natural values of land areas and waterways to conserve biological diversity.  Kevin is a member of the US Forest Service’s Wavyleaf Basketgrass Task Force and is a recognized expert on invasive grasses. 

Rescheduled: VNPS event - Grasses in VA Coastal Plain by Helen Hamilton

posted Feb 11, 2014, 12:41 PM by Marty Nielsen

Due to the strong weather forecast for a major storm on Wednesday and Thursday, this lecture has been rescheduled by one week.  The new date is February 20 at the same time and place.  We hope to see you then. 

Grasses in Virginia’s Coastal Plain
A presentation by Helen Hamilton
Thursday, February 20
7:30 - 9:00 pm
Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road
Alexandria, VA
VNPS programs are free and open to the public.
No reservations are necessary for lectures.

Helen Hamilton: Grasses and Wildflowers of the Coastal Plain

posted Jan 11, 2014, 12:07 PM by Marty Nielsen   [ updated Jan 11, 2014, 12:08 PM ]

Helen Hamilton, naturalist, VNPS member and past President of the John Clayton Chapter will talk about Grasses in the Coastal Plain.

Ornamental native grasses furnish an attractive contrast to wildflowers and shrubs in the home garden.  With graceful plumes that wave in the wind, the stiff stems and leaves offer a backdrop for colorful plants, and remain standing for winter interest.  She will discuss the basics of grass identification, along with descriptions of species common to the Coastal Plain, and comments about their uses by the colonists and native Americans.

Her new book 'Grasses and Wildflowers of the Coastal Plain' will be available.
7:30 - 9:00 pm

Green Spring Gardens

4603 Green Spring Road

Alexandria, VA 22312

703 642-5173

Winter Solstice Walk

posted Nov 18, 2013, 11:36 AM by Marty Nielsen

Sunday December 15, 2013

 10:00am - 3:00pm  

Field trip co-sponsored by the Maryland Native Plant Society, Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, Botanical Society of Washington, and Mattawoman Watershed Society

 Leaders: Rod Simmons, Jim Long, John Burke, Alan Ford, Richard Murray, Carole Bergmann, and Greg Zell

Celebrate the winter season at Chapman Forest (Chapman State Park) with its spectacular scenery and remarkable diversity of native plants, wildlife, and natural communities. 

Field trip is free and open to non-members.  Registration is not required.

For ARMN members, this event will apply towards advanced training hours in botany, dendrology, forest ecology, and geology.

Bring: Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch or snacks and water.  Most of the walk traverses rolling, fairly open forest along trails, though some steep grades will occasionally be encountered.

Directions: Take Indian Head Highway (Rt. 210) south from Capital Beltway (495).  Proceed south on Rt. 210 for app. 15 miles.  Continue on Rt. 210 past the Rt. 227 intersection at Bryans Road (McDonald's, Burger King, and shopping center on right and a builders supply will be on left) and start looking for Chapman Landing Road on right.  Take half right on Chapman Landing Road and proceed a couple of miles to entrance to Mount Aventine (Chapman State Park) on right.  Park and meet in parking lot at entrance gate (additional parking is available along the shoulder of Chapman Landing Road, though please be mindful of the neighboring residents and careful not to damage the road edges when parking).

*Field trip cancelled for heavy-steady snow, sleet, or pouring rain, but not for snow flurries or drizzling rain.

Contact: http://mdflora.org/events.html

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