Native Plant Guide for Southeast Virginia

Native Plant guides for Southeast Virginia including Hampton Roads Region are available for pickup! Stop by our office at the Brock Environmental Center, M-F, 9am-5pm to pick up your copy of the gorgeous new Hampton Roads Native Plant guide!

Don’t forget to check out our native plant of the month list for 2017 ! Each month we feature a native plant. Folks can place an order that same month by calling our office at (757) 962-5398 or by emailing Dana@lrnow.org. Plants are then available for pickup at the end of the month. These beautiful natives are provided to us by Southern Branch Nursery

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Greener Living: Book on native plants is a gift for the asking

By Mary Reid Barrow
Correspondent
Nov 26, 2016

Native plant lovers, a holiday gift is yours for the asking.

A beautiful full-color paperback, “Native Plants for Southeast Virginia including Hampton Roads Region,” is hot off the press.

” Until more than 13,000 copies have been distributed, the book, full of information and luscious photos of native plants, is free. See the note at right for ways to get a copy.

Virginia Witmer, the outreach coordinator with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, designed the book and coordinated the publication.

Authors are several native plant experts around Hampton Roads, who wrote plant descriptions and donated photos. A grant from the United States Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded the book’s publication.

The book gives an informative rundown on many native groundcovers, ferns, flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees for this area, along with color photos. Information on where and when they like to grow, as well as the wildlife they support, is included. Comments below each plant give extra tidbits of interesting information.

“Step by step, show me what to do, really hits home with people,” Witmer said.

You don’t have to look far in the alphabetical listing of perennials to find Asclepias incarnata, or swamp milkweed, the popular monarch butterfly host plant. Besides growing information, the helpful comments note that swamp milkweed cannot be transplanted because of its long taproot. And the comments go on to say that aphids are inevitable but not to worry unless the plants look sick. Then “spray the plant and aphids with soapy water.”

We’re told that passionvine, often called maypop, got its name from its fruit that pops loudly when crushed, and that the sweet groundcover, partridge berry, “implies that the scarlet fruits are relished by partridges.”

Turns out that coral honeysuckle, a pretty dainty vine, is a powerhouse as a food source for many insects and birds. Not only is it popular as a nectar source for hummingbirds and butterflies, but surprisingly, it also is host to 33 spring caterpillars. Come fall, its fruit attracts the purple finch, goldfinch, hermit thrush and robin.

The guide is modeled after other native plant books recently published in other regions in the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, Witmer noted. Almost all of the handsome photos of plants that accompany the descriptions in this book were taken by the authors in local gardens, Witmer said.

“The photography for this one is wonderful,” she said. “As a designer, I just absolutely loved, loved, loved to get these photos.”

 Other than the sections on the plants themselves, look for a chapter called “The Right Plants in the Right Place,” which has plant recommendations for almost every habitat you can think of. There’s “Landscaping in Streetside Places,” “Landscaping in Small Places” and even “Landscaping in Dry Shade” and “Landscaping in Wet Shade.” Other sections discuss landscaping along the water and in rain gardens.

You can find information on places to see native plants and on kids and native plants. An extensive list of additional resources, both online and books, also is included.

“Native Plants for Southeast Virginia” is fun to thumb through and full of specific information when you want it.

The guide was produced as part of a coastwide regional native plant marketing initiative coordinated by the Coastal Zone Management Program. The authors who worked with Witmer represent more than two dozen gardening and environmental groups and businesses across southeast Virginia.

“I just love having all that creativity at the table,” Witmer said, “and all that knowledge and expertise.”

Not only did many people work hard to produce this special book that will be invaluable to gardeners, but they also are gifting it to us.