Let me introduce myself...I'm Jody Brady, director of the Round Hill Appalachian Trail Festival. With the festival postponed, the A.T. closed and the coronavirus still raging, we're missing the Trail. We understand the need to keep our distance from both the Trail and each other. Still, that doesn't mean we can't be Trail advocates even now.
Living a half mile from the A.T. (as the crow flies), my husband and I know first-hand some of the challenges the Trail faces. I'm not talking about maintenance or over-crowding. I'm talking about invasive plants. Plants that don't belong in our local ecosystems and that can outcompete native species. Plants that don't feed our insects and wildlife.
Here on a slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we work just about every day to dig out barberry, wineberry and multi-flora rose. We pull garlic mustard and Japanese stilt grass. We make room for the comeback of cutleaf toothwort and wild geraniums. We help support biodiversity.
A good number of the invasives we're pulling jumped ship from people's gardens. They're exotic plants bought at nurseries: ajuga and periwinkle, multi-flora rose and barberry. They don't support our pollinators or other wildlife. If, instead, we all plant species native to our ecosystems, we can still have beautiful gardens—and we'll have the added benefit of more "neighbors," like birds and butterflies.
Even if you don't live as close to the A.T. as we do, you can support our parks and wild spaces just by following two simple steps: Pull invasives, plant natives.
Here are some of the plants you make room for when you remove invasives:
Round Hill Outdoors: Join us in bringing together local friends and family to unplug and get outside. Let’s discover our amazing backyards — from national treasures like the Appalachian Trail to new local and regional parks.