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Posted by on Jul 7, 2014 | 0 comments

Field Trip: Bethany Beach Nature Center

Field Trip: Bethany Beach Nature Center

We visited the Bethany Beach Nature Center while on vacation in Delaware last week. The park reminded me a lot of Huntley Meadows (located just south of Del Ray) with its wide variety of native plants and a boardwalk which takes you through the woods to an open marsh observation deck. It’s worth a visit if you are in the Bethany area this summer. The main nature center is an historic house built in 1902 which was moved from its downtown Bethany location in 1999 to its current more inland location after being donated to the town. It’s one of five houses built by John Addy, one of Bethany’s original settlers. Another of the five houses is a famous Bethany Beach landmark, the oceanfront B&B called the Addy Sea. It was the 4th of July when we visited so the building was closed, but that didn’t stop us from checking out the three gardens on the property — a rain garden, a vegetable garden and a native plant demonstration garden. We...

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Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 | 0 comments

April Bees Make June Honey

April Bees Make June Honey

Back in April, Jill and Jeff invited me over to see the installation of their brand new bee hives and about 20,000 bees, delivered in person by azure b owners Heidi and Stefano from their apiary in Maryland. Here are Jeff and Jill (on the far left), and Heidi and Stefano (at right) in their backyard just after Stefano finished setting up the hives. Jill and Jeff were told it may take an entire year before they’d be able to harvest honey, but their bees proved exceptional. As today’s guest blogger, Jill tells us about their first June harvest. I think we must have the busiest bees on the planet because after only a couple months, they completely filled two hives with layer upon layer of honey-filled comb. In fact, they made so much that our “bee whisperer” Stefano told us we could take just a bit for ourselves. Thinking we’d have to wait another year, we jumped at the chance! My intrepid bee-wrangling husband, Jeff, did the honors...

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2014 | 0 comments

Building Community: The MVCS Tree and Rock Garden Project

Building Community: The MVCS Tree and Rock Garden Project

When work needs to be done at Mount Vernon Community School but there’s no funding to do it, you can count on the PTA. This is a great example of community-building in our neighborhood with parents, students, teachers and local business partners teaming up to renovate the tree and rock garden on one of the school’s playgrounds. The ground has suffered drainage issues for years and was a mud pit every time it rained. Organizers also wanted to create a more attractive and functional play and gathering spot for the kids. This is the play area used mostly by kindergarten, first and second graders. So here is the before. And here is the plan: Dig a trench around the area similar to a French drain, install tubes to guide water through outlets on a new retaining wall, fill area with a new bed of gravel and wood chips, and create seating areas with tree stumps and corner benches. In the weeks before the project started, signs were posted around...

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Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 | 2 comments

Margaret Wohler’s Nature Sketchbooks

Margaret Wohler’s Nature Sketchbooks

I’ve been to two of Margaret Wohler’s nature journaling workshops, one for grown-ups at the Del Ray Artisans and one for kids at Huntley Meadows Park, where Margaret has spent more than 20 years as a park naturalist. When she teaches, she brings along a few of her own sketchbooks. I’ve always wanted to spend time one-on-one with Margaret to talk about her art. One afternoon recently, Margaret showed me some of the many journals she keeps in her home that are filled with notes and drawings. She loves the idea of filling sketchbooks with observations in nature, even, she says, if the drawings are crude at times or unfinished. The more one draws, the better the artist one becomes. Margaret always includes a few notes on the pages, such as the date, the weather and maybe temperature and cloud cover, as well as identification of various plants, insects, and other features. She’s experimented with a lot of different artistic media, but her favorite drawing implement is the thin-lined Japanese Goulet...

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Posted by on Jun 9, 2014 | 1 comment

Del Ray Parks and Rec: Frank Mann Field

Del Ray Parks and Rec: Frank Mann Field

We love our parks and outdoor recreation areas in Del Ray and its surrounding neighborhoods. In this first in a series of posts about our local “parks and rec,” we’re visiting Frank Mann Field over at Four Mile Run Park. Frank Mann Field, located at 3700 Commonwealth Ave., is home to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League team the Alexandria Aces, Bishop Ireton High School’s baseball team and various Alexandria Little League teams. But who is Frank Mann and why is the field named after him? I just recently learned that Frank Mann served in Alexandria public office from 1952-1979 in various roles: As mayor (three terms), as a member of the city council and as a delegate in the Virginia General Assembly. In 1978 he played an important role bringing the minor league team called the Alexandria Dukes to our city. They played for a few years at Four Mile Run Park before relocating to Prince William County. That team is now the Potomac Nationals. After Frank Mann...

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