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Posted by on Aug 12, 2016 | 2 comments

Help Del Ray Build a Spray Park

Help Del Ray Build a Spray Park

If you pass by the Colasanto Park at the corner of Mt Vernon and Commonwealth Avenues, you’ve probably wondered why the pool, in such a prime location, sits closed. Well, you’re not alone. There is a group of Del Ray citizens, led by Nancy Lee-Reeve, eager to make the most of the space. They want to convert the pool into a proper “gateway” to Del Ray complete with a spray park with fountains and sprinklers for kids of all ages. “On hot summer days, we are reminded of what could be if we work together as a community to make this spray park happen. This pool has been an eyesore for way too long,” says Nancy. The pool closed in 2010 due to under-utilization and although it is slated to be redeveloped, that isn’t in the city plans until 2022. To speed up the process, Nancy launched a petition which states: “The pool and the surrounding area are the gateway to Del Ray. We’d like the City of Alexandria...

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Posted by on Aug 3, 2016 | 0 comments

Campaigning for Backyard Chickens in Alexandria

Campaigning for Backyard Chickens in Alexandria

Did you know it’s legal to raise chickens in Del Ray? Legal, that is, if you have a lot large enough for your coop to stand 200 feet from your neighbor’s yard, which pretty much makes everyone who currently has chickens (and yes, there are a few!) in violation of the law. But a movement is gaining steam to modify that ordinance to align with our typical small lot sizes. A group that calls themselves “Hens of Alexandria” has created an online petition as a first step in changing the ordinance. As soon as they get 500 signatures, they’ll deliver the petition to the Alexandria City Council. They’re proposing that they city allow 1 chicken hen per 1,000 square feet of lot size and at least 4 feet from a property line, unless space is shared with a neighboring property of mutual consent. Roosters are not permitted. You can find more information on this campaign on their flyer, such as benefits, concerns, and more facts about backyard chickens. These...

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Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 | 1 comment

Scenes from the 2016 Del Ray Urban Farm Tour

Scenes from the 2016 Del Ray Urban Farm Tour

This past Saturday, we held our second Del Ray Urban Farm Tour, traveling by bike to seven backyard gardens and one community garden in the Del Ray neighborhood. We met some pretty amazing gardeners, all who grow a sizable amount of food in their own yards. Here’s how the day went: The tour started at 9 a.m. at the top of Mt Ida where neighbors Catherine and Lauren (whom we featured last year) showed us what’s growing in their shared garden space — it gets bigger and better each year. They had a pepper tasting, gave away extra canned goods and answered questions about the enormous amount of vegetables they grow. Next, the crew road down Russell Road to Alex’s terraced front yard garden, proving yes, even if you live on a sloped yard, you can have a successful vegetable garden. Alex’s garden spreads around the side and back of her yard as well, with perennial flowers, fruit trees and an intricate watering system. Our third stop was Kay’s...

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Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 | 2 comments

Learning to Draw Ferns and Moss at Huntley Meadows Park

Learning to Draw Ferns and Moss at Huntley Meadows Park

Naturalist Margaret Wohler’s nature sketching classes are always excellent. Margaret’s exuberance, love for the natural world – Huntley Meadows Park in particular – and love of art is contagious. I started with a class on creating a nature journal and then took one on drawing dragonflies. And this time, I showed up to learn about ancient plants, the bryophytes, or mosses and ferns – to add to my nature journaling repertoire. Margaret begins every class with a brief biology lesson on the subject at hand using her own hand-drawn illustrations. In this case, we learned about where ferns and moss fit into the history of the planet; they emerged just before reptiles and flying insects, and predate seed plants, flowering plants, and even dinosaurs. We also learned about the reproductive cycles of the ferns and moss and why they’re unique and have managed to survive some 470 million years. She transitions to a discussion of the tradition of nature drawing, sharing several examples from the Victorian era to the present, as...

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Posted by on Jun 30, 2016 | 0 comments

Landscaping a Steeply Sloped Yard

Landscaping a Steeply Sloped Yard

When we moved into our house earlier this year, there was pretty much zero curb appeal. The yard was a mess of weeds mixed with patches of mulch and irregularly placed sod. It was weird, really, because the inside of the house was updated, so it seemed like the previous owner forgot about the outside. The worst part of the yard had to be the steeply sloped sides, two narrow patches of dirt, rocks and weeds eroding with every rainfall. One side received sun and was somewhat evenly sloped. The other side was mostly shade and had a flatter top and then a steep drop (plus an eyesore of a drainage tube!). We called a few landscapers to get their opinions. Everyone seemed to come to the same conclusion: sod the sunny side and hardscape the shady side. We liked the idea of steps on one side to make it easier to get to the back of the house without going inside. Though seed would have been significantly less...

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