President's Letter
Cindy Burks

As I write this there are 43 more days until spring. This year I've been counting down the days. Normally I enjoy slowing down for winter, but I got extremely anxious for spring to arrive after hearing Carol Davit speak about rain gardens at our October meeting. I have a soggy section of lawn where the basement sump pump dumps water. The possibility of turning that area into a rain garden gave me something to look forward to all winter. I got interested in wildflower gardening because I find gardening relaxing and since native plants are happy here anyway, establishing wildflower gardens around my home would give me easy access to the beautiful plants I love. In addition, the plants would require little maintenance and no chemicals. I started with shade plants, purchased at BRWS plant sales. As I filled the shady areas of my lawn, I moved out into the open areas with sun-loving plants. At one of our spring plant sales, sneezeweed was available. Sneezeweed is a lovely wildflower (it doesn't make me sneeze) but it needs a damp area, which I didn't think I had. A BRWS friend suggested trying the plant near a downspout. It worked! For several years now, I've enjoyed those cheerful yellow blooms in late summer. That sparked my interest in other plants that like wet conditions. I had not considered the soggy sump pump area because it is further out into the yard. It will take a bit of work to prepare the soil but I anticipate many happy hours this spring creating a unique garden there. Thank you, Carol, for the inspiration! Thanks, too, to the many BRWS members who so freely share your wildflowers by donating propagated and divided plants from your gardens for BRWS plant sales.

February Meeting (Terrapin Mountain)
Sandra Elder

Terrapin Mountain is located in the Glenwood District of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. The original trail on Terrapin Mountain was three miles long and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Due to years of neglect and timber harvests the trail was almost lost. In 1995 Jim and I began restoring the old trail, clearing logging roads and cutting new trails to rock outcroppings. There is now a nine mile loop trail on this beautiful mountain. Many of Virginia's native trees, shrubs and wildflowers can be seen along the Terrapin Mountain Trail. My slide program will introduce new members to many of our Virginia natives and be a fun review for others. Come see why I think this mountain is worth preserving.

Lynchburg Area Members
Dorothy C. Bliss

On Jan. 1, 2003, with the sun shining and the temperature hovering around 70°, I was tempted to check the RMWC Botanic Garden which I had not seen for two months. Approaching the Garden, I glanced at the two pools and was surprised to see 15 goldfish swimming near the surface. When a rather large insect came near them it was completely ignored. Why? Are they going to be surprised when the temperature turns cold again as it surely will.
As I began my walk along the paths, I observed masses of fallen twigs and branches that covered the ground under and near the China Fir tree. Check this off as item number one for our spring work session in March! Most conspicuous at this time of year are the evergreen fronds of the Christmas Ferns and the leaves of several shrubs, Rhododendrons, American holly and the various ground covers, creeping Juniper, green and gold, the basal leaves of golden ragwort and others.
Most of the berries and fruits of the past season were not in evidence, either eaten by birds or other animals. Deer? Deciduous holly, Ilex decidua, still had a few berries clinging Lo some of the branches but winterberry, I. verticillata had been stripped of all fruit. Do the birds and squirrels
have a preference for the berries of the common winterberry over those of the deciduous holly or can the difference be explained in some other way?
The only other shrub with clusters of berries was the red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia.
Some of you may remember that a few years ago the local grocery stores were selling large bottles of a drink made from the black-fruited species A. melanocarpa. Presumably the countries involved had imported this species from America and now were selling the juice to us. I purchased the drink but found the taste too "heavy" not clear or crisp. This juice is not on the grocer's shelves now so perhaps it did not sell well. Gillespie in his book on Edible Wild Plants of West Virginia states that the fruits contain an abundance of pectin and are excellent for jelly-making. He lists them under the genus Pyrus as do several other botanists.
The most attractive plants were the tiny shrubby evergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, winter-green or teaberry. One reference book lists 35 common names that have been given to this plant. In addition to the above, a few other names are checkerberry, deerberry, grouseberry, mountain tea, winterberry, teaberry and ground holly! This certainly points out the usefulness of the single scientific name. Beneath the Ben Franklin tree, the glossy dark green leaves were intermingled with bright red berries. With just a few clumps from Sandra Elder's woods these plants have spread to cover an area as great as the canopy above. Evidently these berries are not a priority item in the diet of birds and small mammals. Teaberry has been listed as a food for white tailed deer so perhaps it is only a matter of time.
Formerly the extract, winter-green oil, was used as a flavoring but since it has been found to be extremely toxic if consumed internally, today a synthetic wintergreen flavor is the source of the flavoring used in gum, candies, etc. One reference stated that children had died after drinking the oil. Many of us, including me, like to nibble on a few of these berries as we are walking in the woods. Knowing the poisonous nature of this oil, it is best to avoid consuming a quantity of the fruit at any time. Many of the signs (labels) have been pulled up or bent over, probably by deer which still roam the Garden. The spreading juniper bed appeared to be untouched whereas in my yard the three trailing clumps have been ravaged by deer leaving only the stems. The lone flower I saw in the vicinity of the Garden was a bright yellow dandelion flower in the grass outside the boundaries.

Spring Work Session RMWC Botanic Garden
March 12, Saturday 2-4:3OPM
Raindate March 19

We will work from 2:00 to 4:30 PM. This will be a general cleanup of fallen branches, some raking, mulching, cutting back dead stems, etc. Please bring hand tools, pruners, rake, etc. We need your help! I look forward to seeing you in the Garden. Dot Bliss 434-845-5665

Activities 2005   ·   Activities 2004   ·   Activities 2003   ·   Activities 2002

Calendar and Events   |   Activities   |   Cultivation Tips   |   Native Plants   |   Plants and Wildlife   |   Wildflower Walks   |   Membership   |   Contact Us   |   FAQ   |   Links