During 2019, some 1400 native plant enthusiasts, geologists, naturalists, environmental science educators, school and college classes, professional landscapers, birders, history buffs, hikers, and photographers visited—taking 108 tours. The featured photo shows a few of the 49 Charlottesville homeschoolers who visited in April. Visitors came from throughout the Commonwealth and wherever Virginians have friends or family.
Starting February 1 with spring clean-up, a growing corps of volunteers contributed more than 300 hours to make visitors’ experience educational as well as enjoyable. Besides guiding visitors, volunteers assist the Center for Urban Habitats team in planting, grooming, and managing invasive species. Volunteers include Piedmont Master Gardeners, Master Gardeners of Nelson County, Rivanna Master Naturalists, and Central Blue Ridge Master Naturalists. A growing roster of Friends supports the Gardens with membership fees, gifts in kind, and volunteer service.
In February, Mountain Press released Albert Dickas’s Virginia Rocks! A Guide to Geologic Sites in the Old Dominion. The book includes The Quarry Gardens among 50 “compelling and accessible” sites. Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy also included QGs in its guide to notable geologic sites.
The Nelson & Albemarle Railroad exhibit was completed and the train is running. An exhibit of minerals and artifacts found on the site has been put in place. Bluebird nest boxes, part of a collection Paul Davis built using woods of each of Virginia’s native tree species, have been added; those made of woods found at QGs are on exhibit, others are for sale in Visitor Center.
Devin Floyd, here with Dr. Mary Jane Epps, led a summer survey by the CUH team of areas around the parking lot, and found them extremely rich in plant diversity including trees more than 200 years old. The total of plant and animal species now exceeds 950 of which 56 are Nelson Country firsts. QGs now has the largest documented number of native plant species of any botanical garden in Virginia.
The Blue Ridge Mycological Society continued to meet and foray each month, adding new fungi species to the QGs biota and sharing data with the North American Mycoflora Project.
Brothers Ezra and Theo Staegl, of the Blue Ridge Young Birders Club, led a walk here for the public in May and designated the QGs a site for a Rarities Roundup in October. So far, 80 species of birds have been spotted. In other news, 39 young bluebirds fledged from the nine nest boxes tended by members of the Bluebird Society.
During 2020, we look forward to completing the picnic pavilion rising on the lawn between the Visitor Center and the Overlook. Under a metal roof matching the VC, it will accommodate 40 for lunches and other events needing tables—the same number as the classroom. We’ll also be completing a deer exclosure along the lower trail to protect plant species the animals can’t resist. We’ll be planting two more prairies, one along the entrance road, the other around the research beds, which have been planted with various grass seeds and blends.
And, finally, we’ll be looking for new ways The Quarry Gardens can realize the potential of their distinctive site.
We wish you all the best for the New Year—and hope to see you at The Quarry Gardens.