Alban Maintenance Facility
Meadow Planting 2018

The planting crew celebrates a successful workday
See more planting day photos here

"A happy event that will make the Earth smile"

Volunteers from several agencies and organizations gathered on Saturday, November 10, 2018 to plant a pollinator meadow at the Alban Maintenance Facility in Springfield. Thank you for coming out on a chilly fall morning to plant over 700 trees, shrubs and perennial herbs. Proof again that ‘many hands make light work.’ This was a great partnership between Department of Vehicular Services, Friends of Accotink Creek, George Mason University's Engineers for International Development, and Stormwater Planning!

The Fairfax County Department of Vehicles Services received $40,000 in Environmental Improvement Program funding to design and plant a pollinator meadow at the Alban facility, located in an industrial area and surrounded by acres of impervious surface. The facility houses offices, wash bay, fueling station, parking, storage areas and maintains county vehicles from school buses to trash trucks.

The site of the meadow is actually over the top of Field Lark Branch which flows to the nearby Accotink Gorge. A portion of Field Lark Branch was undergrounded with fill dirt from the construction of the Fairfax County Parkway. After construction invasive plants including Bradford Pear and Chinese Lespedeza colonized the site making it a wasteland for native pollinators. Thanks to the Environmental Improvement Program grant, this 1-acre site has been restored to a native meadow with both upland and lowland species including Black-eye Susan, Beebalm, Milkweed, Ironweed, Bullrush, Deertongue, Little bluestem, Indian grass and more. A hedgerow of native shrubs and trees including Sumac, Juniper and Virginia Pine will greatly enrich the local flora and fauna. One thousand plants including two dozen species of herbaceous plants were provided by Earth Sangha, grown from seed they collected locally.

Hopefully the rains will continue to water the plants in for us, but not drown them. In the next couple of weeks the large area that was seeded should start to green up with the annual cover crop. Next spring we will be looking for the young trees and plugs to start sprouting as well as the perennial seed mix to start germinating. We’ll expect to see the biennial orange cone-flower and partridge pea blooming next summer too.

Early next summer Stormwater Planning will be spot treating invasive plants like Chinese Lespedeza and Bradford Pear for the fourth time. Over the next few years we will continue to monitor the area to be sure that a healthy population of native plants is taking hold and keeping out the invasives. Ideally this will require less and less effort over time. The establishment of a native meadow is a gradual process. As perennial forbs and grasses become established they will become more dominant than the opportunistic annuals. With the increase in native plants we should see an increase in pollinators and the wildlife that feed on them.

Once the meadow is complete and the plants have had time to establish themselves the project will treat stormwater runoff from the impervious services on the site. Making landscaping improvements that incorporate pollinator-friendly practices, exemplifies another step in the larger, multi-agency plan to save pollinators and beautify the area.

Following the planting a small group of the volunteers made an excursion to the nearby Accotink Gorge to view the scenic rapids and lament the advance of the Chinese wisteria vines that are making this appealing spot less and less accessible.

Story on Fairfax County website