Nelson County, VA
By Jennie T. Williams
Decades of urban and suburban development have significantly decreased the occurrence of native plants across Virginia and the United States. Without these native plants, the thousands of insects, including moths, butterflies, and other pollinators that we all rely upon cannot survive. Once mature, the Mallory Creek native grasses and wildflower meadow will represent a small sample of what fields were like in the Rockfish Valley hundreds and thousands of years ago. The plants sown here will offer food and shelter for bugs and small animals that evolved with them over the millennia.
Over the coming years, an ever increasing diverse population of pollinators will rely on its flowers for nectar and as a source for food and habitat. We will all be able to enjoy the beauty of the wildflowers and butterflies, but don’t forget to look for caterpillars, moths, bees, and other insects that create the complex biodiversity needed for a healthy environment.
Monarch butterflies should be of special interest to us all. Large monoculture farms and increased use of herbicides have endangered this iconic species. It can only survive if we all take every opportunity to re-establish the only resource Monarchs must have, milkweed. Our meadow will be sown with common milkweed and we will add some swamp milkweed plants as well. You can help Monarchs by planting a butterfly garden on your property including milkweed plants.
The Mallory Creek Native Grasses and Wildflower Meadow is a cooperative effort of the Nelson County Master Gardeners, the Rockfish Valley Community Center, the Wintergreen Nature Foundation, the Central Blue Ridge Master Naturalists, and others. Special recognition is extended to J.W. Townsend Landscapers and the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation Office for their expertise and support.