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 Community Association Receives $25,000 ‘Sustainable Communities’ Award from PEPCO and Sustainable Maryland
From the left: PEPCO Regional President Donna Cooper presents Sustainable Communities award to Penn Branch Public Works Chair Alberta Paul and President Stan Benton. Penn Branch Community Association was awarded $25,000 to make improvements to 9/11 Memorial Park by Pepco and Sustainable Maryland. This funding is made available through Pepco’s Sustainable Communities Grant program, which provides funding to support open space preservation, improvements to parks and recreation resources, environmental conservation, and innovative community resiliency projects. Our community association was one of 11 local municipalities, recreational authorities, and nonprofits that were chosen to receive $125,000 in funds from Pepco and Sustainable
PBCA will swear in our new executive board members during our general body meeting on Tuesday, January 10th. New Officer Bios Paul Grant | Candidate for President Paul currently serves as Communications Director for the Penn Branch Community Association (2020-2022) and he has previously served as Parliamentarian (2014-2015). He is Chief Creative Officer and Senior Producer at Ascender Communications (dba Ascender Films, Inc), a full-service, digital advertising and media production company, based in Washington, DC. He established the firm in 2005 and has 20 years of professional experience producing award-winning creative content for public health campaigns, non-profit advocacy groups, businesses, and
Inaugural ‘Penn Brancher of the Year’ and ‘Distinguished Community Service’ Awards presented to Alberta Paul and President Stan Benton
During our December Holiday Gathering, PBCA recognized outstanding examples of community service in our neighborhood. Alberta Paul, received the ‘Penn Brancher of the Year’ Award for her efforts in securing an $25,000 grant from PEPCO and Sustainable Maryland to continue renovations in 9/11 Memorial Park and the ‘Distinguished Community Service’ award was given to outgoing President Stan Benton. Stan will complete his successful two year term as president at the end of January 2023. Outstanding community service should never be regarded as a thankless task, ‘ said incoming PBCA President Paul Grant as he presented the first award during PBCA’s Annual Holiday Gathering. ‘We must
Save the Date! Please join us on Tuesday, December 13th for our December holiday gathering /meeting. The meeting will be held in-person at the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church (lower level meeting space) from 7:00PM – 9:00PM. This will be our first in-person community meeting since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020. New Officer Elections Light Refreshments Special Presentations Music Fellowship More event details will be announced soon!
On August 13, 2022, The Penn Branch Community Association will host our annual Penn Branch Community Day, from 11am to 6pm. This year will be extra special because it is our first community day in three years! This event includes food, music, dancing, kids’ activities, and more! It is a great way to fellowship with our Penn Branch neighbors and celebrate our diverse community. The success of this event relies in part on your generous support. The Penn Branch Community Association is kindly requesting a monetary donation to support this community event. As a token of our appreciation for your