Crow’s Nest: A native garden at the visitor center

September 28, 2017

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager. Drawings by Aubrey Smith.

We have new native wildflower gardens around the addition to the visitor center barn. Assistant Preserve Manager Aubrey Smith, a graduate of the Longwood Professional Gardener Program, designed and planted these gardens.

Aubrey’s drawings are amazing and I want to share them and the results, a new garden that is still being planted.

The gardens are on a steep bank behind the barn ramp and blend into the native woods next to them.

The gardens include warm-season grasses and wildflowers such as penstemon, monarda, mountain mint, purple coneflower, stonecrop, and liatris. A redbud tree and some Virginia sweetshrub provide some structure in the garden. By the time it is finished being planted and the plants have filled in, there won’t be any mulch visible, and so the need for weeding will be kept to a minimum.

One bed is particularly challenging (below) since it is such a narrow strip between a ramp and the level walkway out to the parking lot.

We think these gardens will welcome visitors and inspire them to use native plants in their own landscapes. Many of the plants are labeled. We hope you’ll stop by to see them!