Ziegler eats, sleeps and breathes fresh farm air in the
midst of city life in Newport News, Va.
of that precious farm life is disappearing because the
adjacent farm will soon become a bustling housing
property, one of many dairy farms in the early Mennonite
community, has been home to grazing horses for years. It’s
also been home to native plants and wildlife, according
to Ziegler, whose cut-flower fields border the 40-acre
tract. Eastern red cedars, blackberry brambles,
sassafras trees, oaks and maples are just a few of the
native species that provide nesting places and food
sources for all kinds of creatures that seek its refuge.
suppose my deep connection with this farm and all its
inhabitants is rooted in the fact that, like the
creatures, I’m out there all day most days and we’ve
come to know each other pretty well," says Ziegler.
raccoons, deer, geese, ducks, snakes, turtles, many
amphibians and countless birds, including a pack of
Eastern bluebirds and a very busy raptor nest, call this
the years we have watched in wonder as one of the tall
trees surrounding the pond has housed raptor nests for
at least the past six years. The first two years it was
home to red-tailed hawks. Great horned owls took over
for two consecutive years, and then back to red-tailed
hawks, which are currently working on the nest."
ease the pain of the 90-home development, Ziegler
installed a 550-foot native plant border around her 2
1/2-acre farm last fall.
I have loved the view over the neighboring 40 acres of
pasture and woodlands and just hate to lose it, it’s
the destruction of habitat and displacement of the
wildlife that has proven to be the most difficult to try
to swallow," she says.
landscape goal was to create an area that will welcome
wildlife in the coming years."
reading Doug Tallemy’s book, "Bringing Nature
Home," a few years ago, Ziegler wanted to create
her own habitat of native species that would invite
birds and insects to live within the boundaries of her
project moved to the top of the to-do list when the farm
next door was sold and slated to development," she
a native border?
native plant border serves several purposes. It provides
a visual screen from the homes that will flank her
property on two sides. It provides habitat for wildlife
displaced by the development’s construction. And, it
creates a permanent planting of species that will help
native bees and other beneficial insects thrive among
her organic gardens.
$9,000 budget for the project supported professional
guidance for plant selection and the purchase of large
plants for the quickest screening potential Ziegler
could get — there is no time to wait for small plants
to get big, she says.
rented, engine-powered auger made the planting holes for
159 native trees and shrubs and 36 perennials that
common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, 1 gallon.
brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia Triloba, 1 gallon.
mountain mint. Pycnanthemum sp., 1 gallon.
Eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana, 7 gallon.
loblolly pine, Pinus taeda, 15 gallon.
sweet bay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, 7 gallon
red maple, Acer rubrum, October Glory, 15 gallon.
black gum, Nyssa sylvatica, 15 gallon.
willow oak, Quercus phellos, 15 gallon.
serviceberry, Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance. 7 gallon.
bald cypress, Taxidium distichum, 15 gallon.
Arrowwood Viburnum dentatum, 7 gallon.
blackhaw viburnum, Viburnum prunifolium, 7 gallon.
red chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia, 7 gallon.
wax myrtle, Myrica cerifera, 7 gallon.
pussy willows, Salix, bare root.
daffodil bulbs and other gifted plants from friends.
border is located on what had been a cow and horse
pasture for the past 120 years, so no amendments or
fertilizers were needed. Marking paint was used to
transfer the layout to the land, according to Ziegler.
After the plantings, Ziegler and coworkers collected
bags of leaves from nearby curbsides to make a 10- to
12-inch deep layer of leaves. No irrigation was
our 2 1/2 acres is no replacement for 40 acres of
habitat, we are going to do our best to rollout the red
carpet for our wildlife friends and make the best of a
heartbreaking and environmental changing
situation," Ziegler says.