How does your garden grow? Native Plant gardening in Your Penn Branch Yard
With a grant from the Anacostia Watershed Society, our Penn Branch 9/11 Memorial Park will be planted with local, native plants. The Anacostia Watershed Society is working to restore the natural habitat of the river. Native plant propagation supports restoration along the river and can help the ecosystem in our neighborhood.
What are native plants and why should we care about them?
Native plants are those that occur naturally in the region or ecosystem in which they evolved. Birds and insects have co-evolved with plants specific to a region and cannot survive long term without them. Gardening and landscaping with native plants adds beauty to your yard while improving the District’s natural environment. Even the smallest piece of native plant habitat becomes a part of sustaining the landscape for birds, bats, bees, and insects. We need these bees and insects to pollinate our vegetable gardens and to maintain the natural environment. Many butterflies and moths need specific native plants as food sources while in the caterpillar stage of development. The seeds and nuts from native plants are essential food for many types of local wildlife.
Plants that are native to the DC region evolved to perform well in our soil and climate. They do not require fertilizer and should not need to get watered when they become established after the first year unless we are in drought conditions. Keeping your dried native plant seed heads uncut provides food for birds through the fall and winter months. Using less chemicals or no chemicals in the yard and reducing water use creates a healthier, more sustainable environment for us all.
Non-native plants may become invasive and harm the natural environment. Invasive non-native plants grow aggressively and do not have other plants and natural predators to keep them in check. When invasive non-native plants escape to natural areas they outcompete native plants and disrupt the ecosystem and food cycle for wildlife and insects. A walk in our gorgeous parkland show what happens when invasive non-native plants such as English ivy, Periwinkle, and Japanese barberry get into natural areas.
How to get started.
You don’t have to switch out your entire yard to native plants to help the environment. Every small step helps. Some native plant gardeners set a goal of 70/30 native to non-native but even that is a big change for many. Others take gradual steps to incorporate native plants into their home landscaping. One strategy is to always plant a native tree or shrub when you are adding or replacing trees or shrubs, and every time you plan to add more plants, make them native. Native plants can even be planted in pots.
Although you can find some native plants at local garden centers and big box stores, there are a number of nurseries that sell native plants exclusively, including Chesapeake Natives, Inc. in Upper Marlboro, Maryland which is a non-profit that sells plants native to our region. Learn more at www.chesapeakenatives.org
A handful of local Facebook gardening groups that focus on local native plant gardening provide helpful tips on choosing native plants, including Maryland Area Environmentally-Conscious Gardening and Gardening with Maryland’s Native Plants. Members of these groups often hold free plant swaps and give-aways.
The DC Department of Energy and the Environment has a useful list of native pollinator plants and non-native invasive plants to avoid:
The DC Department of Energy and the Environment RiverSmart program will plant native shade trees on your property for free:
The Anacostia Watershed Society has a beautiful guide to wildlife and plants that are common to our Anacostia River watershed:
Penn Branch residents came out last week to celebrate the 95th birthday of Mrs. Jacqueline Tatum who lives on Texas Avenue. PBCA Block captain Lance Holt, who also works for the DC Department of Aging and Community Living, presented her with a special certificate from Mayor Muriel Bowser that acknowledge her long-time service to our community.
Penn Branch Community Association (PBCA) is selling ‘Penn Branch DC’ T-shirts as a fundraiser to support the ongoing maintenance of our community parks and also to offset costs for future community events like the Annual Block Party and the revival of our Annual Dinner Dance (2022). CLICK HERE TO ORDER TODAY: Penn Branch Community Association DC (PBCA) Custom Ink Fundraising
This week we received official notice that PEPCO will soon install two electrical outlets in our very own 9-11 Memorial Park. This has been a 12-year effort led by Alberta Paul and others. Having electric will make our gateway community park a well-lit, more inviting gathering place. Also, we are asking everyone to donate an hour of time between 9am and 12pm, on Saturday, May 15th to help clean the park and plant new shrubs donated to us from the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS). Remember to bring your tools and extra lawn and leaf bags! Also, we offer special thanks
As we move into the month of May, we celebrate the mothers, grandmothers, aunties, kinship caregivers, and other members of our community who provide love and guidance to us all. For those whose mothers have passed, we hope this can be a time to reflect on cherished memories. Happy Mother’s Day! A big ‘Thank You’ to the many neighbors who donated funds to improve our Penn Branch 9-11 Memorial Park! In the coming months, the PBCA Executive Committee will announce a fundraiser related to continuing to improve the park while celebrating families—past and present—who are connected to our community. We
Last month PBCA Communications Director, Paul Grant was awarded a grant from DC Humanities, Oral History Collaborative Partnership to collect personal narratives from early Penn Branch families. The project, ‘We Are Penn Branch DC’ will focus on the stories of individuals who became residents of Penn Branch between 1945-1968. About DC Humanities The DC Humanities Oral History Collaborative Partnership funds projects that explore and preserves Washington, DC life, history and culture through interviews with the people who have lived it. Created in 2016 in response to a growing need to capture unrecorded Washington history, the DC Oral History Collaborative documents and
Join Us Saturday, May 15th @ 9:00AM On Saturday, May 15th at 9:00AM Penn Branch community members will meet to begin cleaning and restoration of 9-11 Memorial Park, located at the intersection of Carpenter Street and O Street SE. In addition to cleaning, we will plant and install new shrubs and park signage purchased through a recent $1,000 grant from the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS). If you plan to join us, please remember to bring your gardening tools, including rakes, shovels, shears, trimmers as well as lawn and leaf and trash bags. Can’t Join Us? Please Make a Donation The PBCA board is also