Invasive Species Management with Rod Walker of Blueridge PRISM

Blue Ridge PRISM Inc began as a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to reducing the negative impact of invasive plants in the northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Effective invasive plant control is a community and neighborhood issue because these aggressive plants know no boundaries.

Rod serves on the Blue Ridge PRISM Board. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, the Noxious Weeds Advisory Committee for the State of Virginia, which recommends changes to the state’s Noxious Weeds law and regulations, and the Advisory Board for the VA Forestry Association’s Board of Directors. Both Rod and Maggie, his wife, are Virginia Master Naturalists. 

Also, Rod was recently named 2023 Tree Farmer of the Year by the Virginia chapter of the American Tree Farm Association.  

Native Plant Propagation – Part 1 by Ben Casteel:

Ben Casteel, Horticulture Instructor and Program Coordinator at the Virginia Highlands Community College invites us to the campus greenhouse in Abingdon to learn about propagation of native Appalachian plants. Ben will cover both Sexual (seed prep – including processing, stratification, and scarification) and Asexual Propagation (division / separation, cuttings, layering, and grafting) of native plant species.

This will be a two-part series with the first class on January 11th at 7 pm, and the second class on March 14th at 7 pm.

Snakes in Your Garden By Connie Deegan:

Good native landscaping attracts all animals.  Snakes are an amazingly important part of the ecosystem, and many people happily coexist with snakes on their property.  Connie Deegan’s program will include a discussion on the physiology of snakes, the rarity of actual snake bites and what to do in the event of a rare mishap.  Connie Deegan is a naturalist, with the city of Johnson City, TN Parks and Recreation Department, specializing in herpetology.  Connie received the Tennessee Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award in 2021 for Conservation Educator of the Year.  Her motto: Any day working outside is a good day! Connie will have an article on this subject in the September issue of the Wild Ones quarterly digital journal available for WOAH members by accessing their Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes web account.

Read Connie’s article in the Fall 2023 Wild Ones Journal:

Year in Review 2023:

The 2 ¼ minute slideshow highlights the 20 events that the Appalachian Highlands Chapter organized and hosted in 2023.  Events include wildflower hikes, talks, native plant garden tours, and seed/plant swaps, with most open to the public.  If you need more time for a slide, you can pause the video.  

Native Plant Gardening – Which Plants Work Where? By Chris Ludwig:

Chris used his passion and knowledge of Virginia’s flora in his talk to the Appalachian Highlands Chapter on September 13, 2023. He is a retired biologist after a career in the Virginia Natural Heritage Program in the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. He described the following steps for establishing a native plant garden:
1) Go explore our plants!
2) Know your yard or land.
3) Choose a goal, choose the plants.
4) Obtain the plants.

He demonstrated using the Flora of Virginia Mobile App to determine if a plant is native to our area and its characteristics. The App is based on his co-authorship of the Flora of Virginia comprehensive manual of Virginia’s vascular plants.

Chris listed the following web references for native plant gardening in SW Virginia and NE Tennessee: – The Xerces Society – The Natural Communities of Virginia – Plant Southwest Virginia Natives Campaign – Virginia Native Plant Society – Natural Heritage Data Explorer – Flora of Virginia Mobile App – Virginia Working Landscapes

Deer Pressure Discussion by Michele Armon:

Damage from deer pressure can be very frustrating and costly! Michele Armon from Ninety % Native deals with this issue daily on her wooded lot in Northern Virginia. She talks about the methods she uses to reduce deer damage and the plants she finds to be particularly unattractive for deer browsing. While different herds are known to eat different things and nothing is really deer resistant, Michele hopes you can apply some of her lessons learned in a way that will help you limit deer damage in your landscape.

Michele’s YouTube Channel:

Natural Area Preservation System in SW Virginia

by Claiborne Woodall, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation:

Claiborne Woodall spoke on natural areas stewardship in Southwest Virginia in this Zoom presentation to the Appalachian Highlands Chapter of Wild Ones on January 12, 2023. He is a regional supervisor for the Natural Area Preserves System within the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Claiborne’s beautiful photos showed rare and unusual plants that require the unique habitats as preserved in these natural areas. He also described efforts to restore and maintain the natural communities through mechanical means and controlled burns. It is a stimulating endorsement to promote biodiversity in our own yards.

Appalachian Highlands Year In Review:

In this slideshow, we present the 2022 year in review for the Appalachian Highlands chapter of Wild Ones, in which we show members’ gardens, chapter events, specific native plants, and more. Enjoy!