The Piedmont Mafic Barren: A Rare but Endangered Treasure Right in our Midst

By Drew Chaney Naturalist and Botanist, Central Virginia As you walk up the hill, you see a gap in the canopy. A sloping outcrop of bedrock lies before you, bordered by gnarled cedars, dwarf hackberries with smooth, cool gray branches, and the olive-green ground cover of the hairy lip fern. You step into the clearing […]

Notes From the Field: Ecosystem Modeling Under Geological Constraints at Quarry Gardens

By Ezra Staengl, Center for Urban Habitats The Quarry Gardens property was used as a soapstone quarry between the 1950s and 1970s. After the soapstone industry abandoned it, the community used it as a dump until Armand and Bernice Thieblot bought it in 1991. In 2014 the Thieblots embarked on a mission to create a […]

Native Gardens and Autumn Cleanup – A New Piedmont Aesthetic

Luna moth wrapped in a leaf Thinking about “cleaning up” those autumn native flora? Hold that thought! I will nearly always encourage actions in the landscaping arena that strike a balance between conserving biodiversity and satisfying human aesthetics. Gratefully, modern gardening and landscaping aesthetics are looking to local contexts more, and relying upon observation, inquiry, […]

Notes From the Field: Khabira Wise’s Gardens, A Story of Native Ecosystem Modeling

By Ezra Staengl, Center for Urban Habitats Khabira Wise’s gardens in northern Albemarle County are a stunning example of the Center for Urban Habitat’s (CUH) unique approach to landscaping through native ecosystem modeling.  When planning a garden, CUH considers factors such as geology, elevation, aspect, and lighting in order to decide which native plant community […]

Notes from the Field: Biological Survey in Orange County

By Ezra Staengl, Center for Urban Habitats We looked around at the hard greens and browns of the heath, breathing in the crisp morning air.  Today, despite being only late July, was one of the first days that you could begin to smell the cool, musty scents of fall.  The Center for Urban Habitats was […]

Ecosystem Modeling in Landscape Design

Some Basic Concepts as employed by Center for Urban Habitats  Paying attention to local natural systems teaches us how to bring forth the hidden potential of nature in areas where others have lost hope. –D.Floyd  Plants grow where they grow for a reason. In order to adequately accomplish so-called “Native” landscape design and installation, CUH […]

Winter Birds: Part 2

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus purpureus) Ezra was the sole member of the Bird Team on the second effort of the week. The first half of the day was chilly and windy, and Ezra covered a wide variety of habitats from upland ridgelines to deep ravines. US-Virginia-Charlottesville-38.0x-78.5, Albemarle, Virginia, USJan 31, 2017 8:05 AM – 12:05 […]

Winter Birds: Part 1

5 Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) were noted Ezra, Theo and Joanna performed a half day survey of Avian Fauna at one of our ongoing biological inventory sites. Their goal was to begin the documentation of winter-time species. Quarry Gardens, Schuyler, VA, Nelson, Virginia, USJan 30, 2017 8:33 AM – 12:13 PMProtocol: Traveling2.0 mile(s)23 species Canada […]