Native Plants Help Improve Water Quality, Wildlife Habitat in Springfield

Native Plants Help Improve Water Quality, Wildlife Habitat in Springfield

A pollinator meadow planting event was held at the Alban Road vehicle maintenance facility in Springfield on Saturday, Nov. 10. More than 30 volunteers from the Department of Vehicle Services (DVS), George Mason University’s Engineers for International Development program, and Friends of Accotink Creek helped install native plants.

"Thank you to our partners in DVS, led by Marguerite Guarino and Daniel Omohundro, and Philip Latasa from the Friends of Accotink Creek," said Suzy Foster, landscape architect, Stormwater Planning Division, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

"There were 693 plants on-site, waiting for us," Foster said, the organizer of the event. Black-eyed Susan, Slender Mountain Mint, Beardtongue, Purple Lovegrass, Beebalm, Poverty Oatgrass, Ironweed and Dwarf Hackberry were provided by Earth Sangha, a native plant nursery, the owners of which frequently step up to fulfill the planting needs of the Stormwater Planning Division.

The site is just a few steps from the Accotink Gorge, where the main stem drops from the Piedmont to the Coastal Plain at the fall line. Though not as dramatic as Great Falls, it is a very pretty spot and surprising to discover in the midst of the surrounding car services, parking lots and highway ramps.

"It was a chilly fall morning, but the rain had softened the ground for planting, so the conditions were ideal," Foster said. "And all of the plants were in the ground by 10:30 a.m. In time, our work will be a valuable extension of the tenuous connection to the Accotink Gorge along Field Lark Branch."

Foster hopes the rain will continue to water the plants, but not drown them. In the next couple of weeks, she will look for the large area that was seeded to “green up” with the annual cover crop. Next spring the trees and plugs will start sprouting and the perennials in the seed mix will germinate. The biennial Orange Coneflower and Partridge Pea should bloom, also.

The next step is to treat (again) the invasive plants like the Chinese Lespedeza and Bradford Pear. Over the next few years, staff of the Stormwater Planning Division will monitor the area to make sure that a healthy population of native plans is taking hold and keeping the invasives out, requiring less and less effort over time.