Yesterday I attended an informal meeting at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens here in Norfolk. It was a beautiful day and at the last minute I opted to bike there instead of driving. I was meeting with a group of people from the Elizabeth River Project/River Star Homes, and we are trying to come up with ways to encourage people in the local watershed to maintain their lawns in a more environmentally, river-friendly manner. We are discussing such controversial issues as using less fertilizer, reducing turf area, planting white clover, creating rain gardens and shoreline buffers, switching from fescue to warm season grasses and other subversive topics. Our meeting was held at a picnic table in the garden by the river, and when it was over we got a tour of the Hermitage's new rain garden. After we said our goodbyes, I was able to wander through the gardens and enjoy the day. This is not this blog's first trip here, and if you want to take a trip back in time go here or here.
Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis)
Even if Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia) never flowered, I think I would grow them just to have trunks like this in the garden, talk about bones and structure!
I believe this is Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) which is not native to Boston, but China, Japan and Korea.
Beyond the garden walls are the wilder parts of the Hermitage. There is a very successful living shoreline restoration project here. Faced with erosion from the Lafayette River, they decided several years ago to forgo bulkheading and riprap and instead opted for creating a living shoreline that not only prevents erosion, but creates (or more accurately re-creates) natural habitat.
One of my favorite unsung native shrubs is the Saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia). Regular readers may be tired of hearing about this plant, but it is sublime right now, ringing local shorelines with white clouds.
Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) is not originally native to Virginia, but came from the southern plains. It makes a good projectile to lob at a sibling if you are so inclined. Thank you Mssrs. Lewis, Clark and Jefferson.
The wooded areas of the hermitage are scene to an epic battle of the invasives, including Privet (Ligustrum sinensis), English Ivy (Hedera helix) and the currently colorful, hometown favorite, Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).