Round Hill Goes “Native”

Round Hill Goes “Native”

There’s a new garden in town. Stop by the Town Office to see our Virginia Native Plant Garden. The garden was supported by the Town and installed by volunteers with Round Hill Outdoors, Virginia Master Naturalists and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.

Why plant “native”?

Do you like birds? Then you’ll want a host of caterpillars hanging around your house. Do you like to grow veggies? Then you’ll need a few bees in your neighborhood. Here in the U.S., we have a long history of importing plants from distant lands. Some to eat. Some for their looks. The problem is that these exotic plants and our vast expanses of lawn don’t support our bees, birds or other wildlife. 

Even worse, some introduced plants are invasive in our environment. When a plant has few or no insects feeding on them or plants that can’t compete with them, they crowd out native plants. Think garlic mustard, multi-flora rose, barberry, Japanese stilt grass. Add to that all land going under development as shopping centers and housing developments, and we’ve lost a great deal of native habitat. 

So, what can we do? Plant native. Birds and butterflies depend on native plans for food, shelter and reproduction. Our gardens can become sanctuaries for these critters. And that’s not the only benefit of going native. Plants that are naturally adapted to our local soils and climate, will need less fertilizer, water and pesticides–so they’re easier to maintain as they help reduce the chemicals introduced to our habitats.

Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of our natural ecosystems. And it’s not hard to “go native.” Groups like Plant NoVa Natives and Audubon at Home offer abundant advice. Plus, many of our local nurseries carry a selection of Virginia native plants, and we even have an all-native nursery, Watermark Woods, near town.

The Virginia Native Plant Garden will be maintained by Round Hill Outdoors.

Planting Crew

Kathi Hottinger

Jody Brady

Bill Brady

Carol Dennis

B.J. Lecrone

Hike: Keyes Gap to David Lesser Shelter

Hike: Keyes Gap to David Lesser Shelter

Distance

6 Miles

Route Type

Out & Back

Difficulty

Moderate

Description

A simple walk in the woods along the Appalachian Trail starting from the Keyes Gap parking lot turning around point at the David Lesser shelter – an excellent example of an Appalachian Trail shelter used by thru-hikers walking from Georgia to Maine. It’s the perfect midway point to relax and eat your lunch, complete with a picnic table and swing. Just downhill from the shelter is a stream where you can collect water (filtration recommended).

A little local history on Keyes Gap from Wikipedia:

Keyes Gap or Keyes’ Gap is a wind gap in the Blue Ridge Mountain on the border of Loudoun County, Virginia and Jefferson County, West Virginia. The gap is traversed by Virginia State Route 9/West Virginia Route 9. The Appalachian Trail also crosses the gap.

 

Originally known as Vestal’s Gap, the 906 feet (276 m) gap is one of the lowest crossings of the Blue Ridge in Virginia. During the colonial period the main road between Alexandria and Winchester ran through the gap. As such, part of General Edward Braddock’s army under George Washington crossed through the gap on their way to Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War.

 

By 1820, the main route west became the newly completed Snickers Gap Turnpike which crossed the Blue Ridge to the south at Snickers Gap, and Keyes Gap lost its prominence. Despite this, Keyes Gap was still of strategic importance during the American Civil War, as it provided an alternate “back route” from Virginia to the key point of Harpers Ferry.

Map

Parking

Coming from Round Hill, on the right side (north) of Route 9 right at the WV / VA border. Parking spaces are limited, so carpool when possible.