Dawn Szelc LDG Co-Secretary, Clear Blue Landscapes
The November meeting of LDG bought us to Arlington on the night of a full moon for a lighting tour. It was quite magical as your can see from the picture above!
Olson Weaver Lighting Design & Install hosted the discussion of a recent project with homeowner Betsy. Betsy had completed a very large landscape design project at her Arlington home. The landscape was the work of Brendan Doyle, President of PLANTERRA Landscape Design, and Shorb Landscaping. Betsy wanted a native garden that was not messy. She also developed a love for birding and wanted to make sure that birds would be visiting her garden. With a sloped yard, high in the back and low in the front, hardscaping created separate areas for different types of plants, including a small rain garden and a sunny meadow.
The site had a number of drainage issues, so Betsy also incorporated rain barrels to collect the rain water off the roof and bayscaping. Bayscapes are environmentally sound landscapes benefiting people, wildlife and water conservation by advocating a "holistic" approach through principles inspired by the relationships found in the natural world. Water-wise landscaping is a big part of it.
Betsy installed the plants in early September 2019, so they had not had much chance to mature when we were there. Some of the points of interest, besides a large selection of natives, include a Hornbeam hedge, a white Cercis canadensis, and a large stone frog.
Thanks to the homeowner and Olsen Weaver Lighting for the tour.
Afterward the LDG membership met at La Ferme Restaurant in Bethesda for a Savory Tasting dinner with drinks. Our Annual Meeting was held including the new year's officer’s election. A festive celebration of another year of Landscape Programs for LDG!
Dawn Szelc LDG Secretary, Clear Blue Landscapes
On this brilliant fall morning over 60 people (from the Landscape Designers Group, Master Gardeners, Trees Stewards, National Park Service and other organizations) had an inspirational and informative visit to Arlington Woods, a remnant stand of Mid-Atlantic Mesic, Mixed-Hardwood Forest adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery.
The tour was led by Rod Simmons, Natural Resource Manager/Plant Ecologist who highlighted unique features of this “old age forest” that once covered the uplands and hillside of property owned by George Washington Parke Custis. Rod described features of the Chestnut Oak and Oak Heath Forest communities found on the upper areas of the property, and Acid Oak Hickory in the ravines and lower benches. Rod further clarified that “old age forests” are ones established post-colonial settlement, (such those as seen at Monticello or Chapman Forest) in contrast with “old growth forests” more common in the west which remain intact due to their more remote or inaccessible locations
Evidence of the current drought was seen, even in the larger oak and hickory trees. Rod cautioned against the removal of stressed trees until next year and encouraged evaluating them in late spring. Rod also noted that American Ash saplings were abundant despite deer browse and the loss of larger trees killed by the Emerald Ash borer and suggested prudent use of benzodiazepine injections in larger saplings to enhance pest resistance. He also highlighted the excellent work that the National Park Service does with environmental planning and projects, including recent stream and stormwater conveyance work seen onsite. Rod’s amazing breath of knowledge and keen powers of observation were further evidenced by his description of an artifact found on site and carefully replaced where found.
Once again, the beauty and complexity of our native forests were an inspiration to all!
A bio for Rod:
“Rod Simmons is the Plant Ecologist for the City of Alexandria, a member of the Virginia Botanical Associates (a nonprofit scientific organization dedicated to the study of Virginia’s flora), a board member of the Virginia Native Plant Society, and Botany Chair of the Maryland Native Plant Society. A life-long resident of northern Virginia, Rod has an encyclopedic command of the local flora.” https://armn.org/2012/12/19/rod-simmons-on-ecological-restoration/
An interesting description of the area written by Rod Simmons: ArlingtonWoods Through The AgesPDF.pdf
Thank you to the groups that joined us that day:
by Clara Aleman, RLA, ASLA
Why is her new book titled Deer-Resistant Design?
Well, as she so simply stated, and bears repeating, because “good design is more important than ever.”
Karen found that many home owners with deer in their yard, tend to come for garden advice only after many failed attempts that took up time, effort and money.
In her new book, she offers homeowners that share their yard with deer to - start with a plan – a plan that includes deer as part of the garden experience.
She offered 8 key design principles for a deer-resistant garden.
1. Establish the hardscape. Think about shapes, materials, sight lines to create a sense of order.
2. Non-edible focal points (water features, containers, structures) – distract and re-focus attention.
3. Color palette – Be strategic and create a sense of unity and order.
4. Varying textures and heights of plants – easier to “hide” minor damage than a sheared hedge.
5. Foliage framework – taste testing less obvious than if lower buds are nipped off.
6. Plant selection – focus on deer resistant plants (levels A and B) and think in combinations.
7. Avoid monoculture – because you KNOW the deer will have to taste it….
8. Barriers – re-route and/or protect with sprays, temporary fencing etc. (Important for year round browsing as well as fall rutting/antlering).
I don't want to give much more away, because I highly recommend you READ THE BOOK!
And, please check out her website ... for lots of happy reading!
LDG members thoroughly enjoyed a tour of Glenstone “a place that seamlessly integrates art, architecture, and landscape into a serene and contemplative environment.” https://www.glenstone.org/. Paul Tukey, Chief Sustainability Officer, was our guide through the landscape. Here is a snapshot of our tour:
Clara Aleman, RLA, ASLA
Oh! The gardens we saw! Not ONE, not TWO, but THREE gardens!
One... The Marshall House in Leesburg, Virginia
Two... Watermark Woods Native Plants Nursery
Three... Ashburn Village pollinator gardens
On Saturday, June 1st, our LDG team came together with APLD and celebrated Spring with a morning of garden visits.
ONE… The morning started at the historic Marshall House in Leesburg, where we met for a light breakfast and a lecture from Leslie Solitario, landscape architect with River's Edge Landscaping on the history of the house, it's owners, and the garden. Afterwards, Leslie graciously headed a tour of the house grounds. The Marshall House, a Federal style house was built in the 1920s. For approximately two of decades (1942-1959), George C. Marshall and his family made it their home. Hence, why we now know it as the Marshall House. In the 80s, the house fell under harsh times until a non-for-profit made it their mission to restore the home and by 1996 the house received National Historic Designation. Currently, this simple, yet elegant home is entirely supported by volunteers who donate time and money.
THREE… off we went to Ashburn Village to see the award-winning native gardens of designer and podcaster John Magee. In 2016, the Ashburn Village Board decided to do pollinator gardens around their lake. After a failed attempt, the board brought in John Magee, an expert in native landscaping. John's concept includes 5 organically elongated shaped planting beds. These native planting beds are now going on their second year of installation.
,John left us with one very important piece of information. He says that most people think that native planting are low maintenance. Rather their importance is part of a much larger ecological conversation. So, if we are serious about being stewards of our environment, we need to do the right thing!
These are a few of his favorite native pollinator plants.
Blackeyed Susan - Rudbeckia maxima
Blue Stem – Andropogon geradii
Coneflower - Echinacea cordatus
Elderberry – Sambucus nigra
Flowering Spurge - Euphorbia corollata
Fox Sage – Carex vulpinoidea
Goldenrod - Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’
Wild Quinine - Parthenium integrifolium
Dawn Szelc, LDG Secretary, Clear Blue Landscapes
May’s tour took us first to Derwood, MD to see a beautiful May 2018 installation to control storm water in a neighborhood common area. The area is about 3000 sq ft and connects to Crabbs Branch Stream valley. The design was done by LDG member Darlene Robbins. The Derwood Station #2 HOA had an original design which was completed earlier by another firm and she then reworked. Darlene created a meandering flow with shrubs and rocks at the curves to direct and slow the flow of water as well as promote infiltration. The project was funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust – Montgomery County Watershed and Restoration Outreach grant to the Rock Creek Conservancy for $85,000. The installation was completed by J & G Landscaping. Darlene had multiple engineers review her design including Rebecca Stack from Design Green and Chris Sonne.
At the top of the area, the storm water from the neighborhood is funneled from a large pipe into the common area. Darlene created a large “well” in this location filled with rock to first catch the water before it flows towards the stream. She used jute netting along the flow to anchor the plants during large rain events. This will biodegrade over time as the plants become larger and more established. She also used landscape fabric under the rocks to keep the dirt from being washed away. She also used “matrix planting” as defined by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, where she created several modules of multiple plants and then repeated the modules over and over to create a planned but visually random design. In all Darlene used 50 tons of stone and 3000 native plants.
Part of the design is a trial study of underplanting with green mulch. Darlene chose 4 different plants to test over time: Salvia lurata ‘Purple Knockout’ (although she did not request this cultivar it is what was planted), Carex radiata, Juncas tenuis, and Waldsteinia ternate.
The project has received Honorable Mention in the 2019 Best Urban BMP in the Bay Awards (BUBBA) in the habitat creation category.
The next property at 9008 Rosemont Dr in Gaithersburg, was a design by LDG member Toni Bailey. She designed both a green roof and a native planting bed with a cistern to collect rainwater off the roof of the Epworth United Methodist Church. The green roof was created using sedum modules from Live Roof and installed by Gordon Construction. Toni requested that a structural engineer review the weight that would be installed and found that reinforcement was required. This work was funded by a $50,000 grant from the Muddy Branch Alliance. The planting bed along one part of the church wall includes all native trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses. The cistern is from Aqua Barrel, a company which has now moved to Georgia. There is a switch to divert the water away from the cistern in winter so that it does not freeze inside the container.
The third property, 214 Tulip Dr in Gaithersburg, was at a private home and funded by the Green Streets grant of the Isaac Walton League. Toni did the site assessment and designed a Master Plan with rain gardens and sustainable landscaping. Only part of the design has been implemented. She did the backyard installation including a rain garden with dry creek bed and native plants such as Baptisia, turtlehead, penstemon, and native creeping phlox.
The final property, at 114 Woodland Dr in Gaithersburg, was a beautiful front yard installation. The owner was very involved in this design plan and is an avid gardener. The planting plan is a mix of native shrubs and perennials, among some existing mature trees. Shrubs included Thuja occidentalis ‘Little Giant’ and Winterberry. There were many Foam flowers and Hay-scented ferns. Other plants included Solidago shuitii ‘Solar Cascade’ Jacobs Ladder, Woodland phlox, Blue wood sedge, Silene carolinia, and wood fern. It was a beautiful and inviting front yard.
Thanks to the designer's for showing us their excellent work and to the homeowners for allowing us to view their properties!
Dawn Szelc, LDG Secretary Clear Blue Landscapes
The March meeting of the LDG was on ponds as water features in the landscape. We had 5 speakers from different companies in the area with expertise in pond design, construction, and management.
John Magee, of Magee Design (www.johnmagee.com), has expertise in vernal ponds. Besides landscape design, John has a pod cast called The Native Plant Podcast. In Broadlands, VA he did a boardwalk in a storm water area. It is planted with native plants. He discussed the most common invasive that he sees in these areas, which is miscanthus grass, so emphasized not to use this plant. As a side he also mentioned that there is an 8-foot layer of cigarette butts at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay!
John worked with Alonzo Avogadas, Capital Naturalist and Natural Resource Manager for Arlington Parks, at the Barcroft Park near Four Mile Run. This park has a magnolia bog with many Sweet Bay Magnolia growing naturally there. These trees are semi-evergreen and like moisture. Alonzo creates a temporary pool to support the amphibians’ life cycle. He uses a product called a Quick dam that absorbs water and create a damming effect to collect the rain water in the spring. These vernal pools support the life cycle of wood frogs, spring peepers, and later toads. They tend to be acidic. He discussed that if you have a pond or pool in a landscape, he does not recommend stocking it with koi as they will eat any and all frog or amphibian eggs laid there. He has also noticed that his own pond had many dragon flies when there were not koi resident in it. He also recommends having minnow for controlling algae.
John loves pitcher plants which also grow in very wet areas. They are native to northern Michigan and New Hampshire. He showed photos of the Powhatan School in Boyce, VA where they had developed rain gardens. Some of the plants used there include Pawpaw, Hibiscus, Elderberry, Closed gentian, Joe Pye Weed, Cardinal flower, Itea virginica, Fothergilla, Fringe tree, and Cut plant.
The next speaker was Don Jump from Harmony Ponds. Don discussed that they do design, construction, maintenance, and repair of any and all types of water features including ponds, fountains, lakes, and waterfalls.
Kristen Weaver and Tara Sutton from DC Ponds, LLC are two sisters who have developed a business cleaning and maintaining ponds. They showed many before and after photos of the types of ponds that they have experience draining cleaning and then restoring to function and beauty. It is a very labor intensive job that they love.
Lastly, Stephen Koza spoke. He is President of Tropic bay Water Gardens in Davidsonville, MD. His is the largest aquatic garden center on the east coast, and he is a koi specialist. He has green houses that are just for fish sales and has many unusual and special varieties of fish that he hand-selects during visits abroad. His store includes a large selection of backyard art and pottery. Stephen recommends UV sterilizers for better water quality and says the key to a well-maintained pond is filtration. He discussed the trick to keep herons out of your pond and eating the fish is to make the walls at least 3 feet high with straight edges. They are not able to get in to eat the fish.
Our final presentation was to bring all the speakers back for a question and answer panel session. LDG President Julie Hawley asked how to begin creating a pond – what materials are used, etc?
All in all the entire evening was very informative and we thank all the speakers for their contributions.
by Clara Aleman, RLA
On Saturday, April 13, 2019, the LDG members were invited to attend a lecture and guided tour of the Springhouse stream system restoration program at the National Arboretum from 9:30 and to 11:30 am. Our guide was Bill Matuszeski, Chair of Environmental Committee of the Friends of the National Arboretum, member of the Mayor's Leadership Council for a cleaner Anacostia River, and former Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Springhouse Run used to be a concrete conduit of stormwater runoff from New York Ave NE and the commercial areas to the north, running through the arboretum and emptying into the Anacostia River. After a major restoration, it is now a meandering stream, edged by thousands of native plants and populated by fish, frogs, and birds. As a group, and with Bill’s guidance, we visited 4 sites.
Project Funding Details
1st site - Hickey Run
Past conditions: Hickey Run is considered the most polluted of all the tributaries connected to the Anacostia River. The stream bed used to be piped and concrete swale that would remove water quickly.
Site physical features: Bridge over a meandering stream bed.
Current restoration efforts: The project started with trash removal and later to the replacement of appropriate soils and plants. Within 3 weeks of completing the meandering stream, fish naturally introduced themselves within the stream. Unfortunately, raw sewage was also identified on the site. Approximately, 61 adjacent sites were identified as wrongfully discharging into the stream. As a result, the restoration efforts at Hickey Run have been temporarily discontinued and another downstream location was identified for restoration.
2nd site – Spring House
Past conditions: Previously, there was a ditch that ran through this site and carried water quickly away from the site.
Site physical features: D.C.'s original Spring House and the Bottling Building which were built in 1890 and supplied bottled water to the city. A series of swales were added perpendicular to New York Avenue to slow down the runoff.
Current restoration efforts: Keith Underwood, the contractor, was responsible for providing 100 pounds of wood chip to the site. Because of his passion for the project, he brought 1000 pounds. This material was used as subgrade fill, providing filtration and cleansing the water.
Future efforts: Include applying learned lessons from Spring House and applying them at Hickey Run.
3rd site – Dawn Redwood Tree & Willow Tree
Past conditions: Previously, there was a concrete lined ditch that ran through this site and carried water quickly away from the site. The pond here had become disconnected from the stream and so would end up stagnant and covered with algae.
Site physical features: This site is marked with the presence of a mature and majestic Dawn Redwood tree, a pond and an over flow dam.
Cultural significance: At the far end of the site is the oldest tree on the arboretum property – Willow Oak. The story is, that during the Civil War, the commanding officer stationed at the site, wrote a beautiful love letter to his wife and daughter. Unfortunately, shortly after, he was sent to battle, where he lost his life. Today, the letter survives and is treasured as a symbol of loss love.
Current restoration efforts: On this site, a dam was created with tons of gravel, wood chips and large boulders creating a filtering effect of the water. The pool was reconnected to the stream, so there is a flow of water through the pool and a trickle over the dam. On rainy days, it has a continuous flow. The area below the dam had been overrun with invasives and larger trees. All of this was cleared away and the meadow was restored with an addition of 33,000 native plants. Most of the plants were donated by the vendors from MANTS in January. Volunteers have been taking care of them at the arboretum since January.
Past conditions: There is a remnant of the ditch that belonged to the old water system. The stream has old brick dumped into it from a nearby brick factory that existed.
Site physical features: The stream here runs under a bridge in the arboretum where large amounts of trash and debris collect. The site has a marked by a large heart shaped pit.
Cultural significance: This site was most probably originally used by farmers for soil extraction.
Current restoration efforts: It has been converted into a continuous meandering stream in order to slow down the water and filter pollutants from the water. Many of the native plants have been installed at this site. On the day we were there volunteers were cleaning up trash and debris all along the stream for Earth Day Cleanup. The Anacostia River is about a half mile downstream from here.
To date, the new steam systems has reduced storm water runoff by 98%. But adjacent uses, like the DC Sanitary Sewer and runoff from New York Avenue will need continued monitoring. This is a work in progress, as testing stations will yield interesting data. As more lands open up for future connections, and stream system expands, it will be exciting to see evolution of the stream system. We are grateful to Bill for sharing his time and knowledge with us and offering us the opportunity to see the project through his eyes.
Dawn Szelc LDG Secretary, Clear Blue Landscapes
The first meeting of the year was February 26 on Storm Water Management, and we had a large turnout for it at the McLean Community Center. We had 3 different speakers, Rebecca Stack a principal at Designgreen, Lily Whitesell Stormwater Outreach Specialist with Arlington County Environmental Services Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management, and Chris Sonne a civil engineer with Natural Resources Design.
Rebecca Stack is a civil engineer, educator, and principal of Designgreen. She is an experienced designer of complex green infrastructure. As a former code official, her contributions to greening the District’s regulations extended from building codes to guidance manuals. This included co-authoring the District of Columbia’s stormwater retention standard. Her firm is the current administrator of DC’s green roof incentive program. Rebecca is committed to aligning her work with positive social impact outcomes and the integration of natural resources within the urban landscape.
Rebecca gave a high-level presentation on storm water management. She emphasized the need to know the permitting in your specific area of the DMV. Storm water is inevitable and brings not only toxic chemicals but pollution with it to our watershed. Areas that have become more and more urban with greater amounts of buildings, roads, and parking have as much as 98-100% surface runoff of the storm water, necessitating green infrastructure that can act more like a natural forest cover and absorb the water more efficiently. Washington, D.C. has implemented the Clean Water Act including the Chesapeake Bay Program while MD and VA have other rules. MD requires new or existing development with soil disturbances of greater than 5000 sq ft to follow their environmental rules while VA requires new or existing development with soil disturbances greater than 1 acre. DC has additional rules for disturbances greater than 5000 sq ft. Rebecca also spoke briefly about the Green Area Ratio (GAR) in D.C. Finally, she addressed the importance of understanding the entire area that contributes to the flow and drainage of the water.
Lily Whitesell has 10 years of experience working on sustainable landscaping projects with Arlington County and, previously, the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, and over 15 years of experience managing outreach programs and communications. As an Environmental Planner with the Stormwater Outreach team, she supports Arlington’s StormwaterWise program, outreach and engagement for capital projects, and manages citizen science stream monitoring programs for macroinvertebrates, stream chemistry, and bacteria levels. She has degrees in Natural Resources and Environmental Science from Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia.
Lily discussed storm water requirements in Arlington County. There are both voluntary and regulatory Best Management Practices (BMPs). She spoke about communicating storm water goals to the landscape client as well as the benefits of planting natives, and the benefits to wildlife of both. She stated that Arlington will soon provide a list of BMPs on real-estate listings. When doing various green projects such as permeable paving and rain gardens, anticipate – avoid – prevent the typical problems such as sediment clogging on paving and compaction of the rain garden area by using heavy equipment. She spoke about designing for maintenance of the site including planting densely or using green mulch to avoid weeds. Finally, she mentioned controlling the cost of design by using plugs vs quarts vs gallons in the right places and also obtaining woody plants from Earth Singha or Fairfax ReLeaf.
Chris Sonne has over 33 years engineering design experience and over 13 years environmental permitting & compliance experience. He provided site engineering and low-impact stormwater design for a wide array for projects, including the Virginia State Capitol, municipal parks, universities, residential sites, and more. He is certified as a Master Stormwater Professional by the Center for Watershed Protection, Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (Instructor), LEED Accredited Professional, and SITES Accredited Professional.
Chris began his presentation by showing a website called the USDA Web Soil Survey. It can be used to find the location of a new landscape project by outlining a polygon around the site and it will provide information of what kind of soil is in the location. He then discussed some specifics on designing a rain garden, starting with doing infiltration testing. This consists of digging a hole to the depth of the rain garden and a little deeper. Presoak this hole by filling with water 24 hours before the test. Now the soil has been saturated and the actual ability to infiltrate water can be ascertained. Next fill the hole again and see how long it takes for the water to be fully absorbed. It should be within 48-72hours for a good rain garden location. Otherwise the garden will be more of a pond and would breed mosquitoes. For the construction of the garden a flat subgrade is needed. This ensures even absorption of the water. Excavate the area from outside of the infiltration area to avoid compacting the soil and use a toothed bucket if a backhoe is needed. If a smooth bucket is used it acts to create a surface that does not allow water infiltration. Protect the area from run-off until it is ready to “go on-line”. Also, its good idea to familiarize the owner with the regulatory aspects of the rain garden. Finally, he recommends including off-line design to take the extra water when the rain garden if full during a larger rain event.
Additional information discussed:
Fairfax County Soil Information Guide https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/soil-water-conservation/soils-info
The most recent LDG tour was with Jane MacLeish in her own private garden on Saturday October 13th at 3743 Upton St. NW Washington DC. The tour also included the garden of one of her neighbors, designed by Landscape Architect Thomas Church.
Jane Krumbhaar MacLeish Landscapes has designed and constructed some of the most well-known and highly celebrated gardens in the area including Ondine, a new garden at Dumbarton Oak, Historic Old Town Lee Mansion in Alexandria, and two gardens at One Observatory Circle — the Vice President's official residence. Jane is a co-founder of the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy. She is well known for her ability to restore old gardens and collaborates with a broad network of garden artisans and craftsmen. She currently serves as a member of the Washington DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities' DC Creates! Public Art Program. http://janemacleish.com/ .
Jane and her family moved into the house in 1968. It was mostly surrounded by grassy lawn. Jane decided to change the front yard to create a journey where you did not know the destination. She added patio areas and a walk that meandered towards the steps to the sidewalk. In later times, when her son decided to get married at the house, she added an arbor over the path. In the back yard Jane had many lovely destinations including a temple brought over from England, multiple statuary, and a beautiful picture window in her kitchen. She wasn't interested in having a garage that was on the property so converted it into an orangery.
The group toured the private garden located next to the McLeish home, which was designed by Landscape Architect Thomas Church, "one of the pioneers of the mid-century Modernist movement." The original drawings of this garden highlight this pioneer in landscape design. “Mr. Church created nearly 2,000 gardens, in addition to several major large-scale public commissions... his voice was unique, distinct, and influential. His two books, Gardens are for People and Your Private World, serve as easy to read manuals on modern residential garden design.” https://tclf.org. The photos below show some of the highlights of that garden.
LDG is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the exchange and enhancement of knowledge relevant to the landscape design profession. We are a group of professional designers in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Membership is meant for students studying and professionals employed in landscape design or associated professions (i.e. arborists, installers, contractors, etc.).
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