This year’s annual Bluebell Festival at Merrimac Farm (and my first) on April 15, turned out to be a great experience even though the famous bluebells were past their peak due to the unseasonably warm weather. As such, there was a greater focus on wildlife and history.
Several hundred participants, including many families with children, arrived in a steady stream throughout the day. Once greeters mentioned that Alvin the albino corn snake was available for petting, the children made a direct beeline for his enclosure.
“I got to hold him. He’s cool!” said 7-year-old Jason. Dad nodded in agreement, but Mom wasn’t so enthusiastic. Read more…
Jake Hosen, University of Maryland, gave a great talk on streams and what keeps them healthy on Thursday night (4/4), and followed it up Saturday morning with a guided walk through the flood plain of Cedar Run on Merrimac Farm to view the streams there.
Streams that flow year-round are known as perennial streams, while temporary streams have no water flow during some portion of the year.
There are two types of temporary streams. The first are intermittent streams which do not flow year round but are fed by groundwater during some portion of the year. The second type, ephemeral streams, receive water only from rain and never from groundwater so they usually flow less often than intermittent streams.
It turns out that streams are not only lovely to look at, they have many interesting characteristics. Streams are ubiquitous – there are approximately 1.6 million miles of 1st order streams, which are the smallest streams in a river network. Overall, in the continental United States and Hawaii a remarkable 59% of stream length is estimated to be temporary. Read more…
Spring is here a little early and Prince William Conservation Alliance members kicked it off with another fun and productive volunteer work day at the Merrimac Farm landscape conservation project and the Stone House.
Last Saturday (3/10/2012), volunteers tore down the old fascia boards on the front porch of the house and put up new fascia. New rain gutters were also installed.
In the back in the conservation project, trenches were dug for the corrugated flex pipe that was laid to connect the two rain barrels that were set up; there will be a third rain barrel installed in the coming weeks. The water collected in the rain barrels will be used to water the plantings in the landscape project.
The native plants that were planted last October easily survived the mild winter. Serviceberry, coneflower, wild ginger and columbine are already sending out new green shoots. During the course of the work, a bald eagle was spotted conducting a flyover of the farm. Read more…
Interested in horse racing? You should have heard Shirley Couteau’s talk on the Preakness Race at Pimlico, Maryland. What about biomimicry – you know, that’s when a bullet train is designed to be as aerodynamic as the beak of a kingfisher, or a 6” drone is modeled on the physiology of bats.
Or what about Amelia May’s look at how man has constructed beautiful buildings from nature’s materials – rocks, mud and twigs – that last hundreds of years.
A crowd of almost 100 people heard those talks and much more at Pecha Kucha Nature Night last night. Rob Hartwell spoke about the success of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River’s shad restoration in the Potomac River; sturgeon restoration is the next project.
Up next was Kate Norris with a presentation about her love of Hawaii, and closer to home Judy Gallagher talked about springtime in Woodbridge. The shared aspect of these disparate presentations, aside from the passion of the speakers, is that they were all six minutes long. Read more…
Merrimac Farm a model for homeowners to emulate
In my last blog, I explained how going native – homeowners using native plants to replace some or all of their lawn – was beneficial to the environment, and listed a couple of web sites with ideas to help them get started.
Today’s focus is on a program right here in Prince William County that can provide homeowners with information, ideas, and hands-on experience in working with native plants.
Prince William Conservation Alliance has begun a conservation landscape project at Merrimac Farm, a 302-acre Wildlife Management Area located in Nokesville. It includes more than 100 acres of contiguous wetlands protected by 200 acres of hardwood forests and upland meadows, at the headwaters of the Occoquan Reservoir.
Yesterday (9/24), more than a dozen enthusiastic volunteers gathered for a work day to spread compost in preparation for the first planting day on October 15. Read more…