Latin for Gardeners: July 2019

July’s Native Maryland Plant 

Verbena hastata L.

(vur-BEE-nuh hass-TAH-tuh)

Common Name: Blue Vervain


Verbena hastata is often described as having a candelabra-like inflorescence.  It grows on erect stems that can reach 5’ and its tiny 5-lobed, tubular flowers attract a variety of pollinators.  In my garden I’ve observed long and short-tongued bees that quickly circle the flower from top to bottom, collecting nectar as they go; other insects tend to linger. Its bitter foliage is said to be unpalatable to herbivores although tender new growth is susceptible to nibbling by rabbits. I planted Verbena hastata with other moisture-loving plants in a consistently wet area in my yard. I was delighted to learn that this plant is a host plant for both the verbena moth and common buckeye butterfly and that the seeds are eaten by songbirds, including sparrow, junco and cardinal. How wonderful is that?  If you have wet areas in your garden and deer pressure – I suggest you give Verbena hastata a try.  I’ll be recommending it at the next Bay Wise visit where residents have wet ground to cover.



~ Alison Milligan – Mstr. Gardener/Mstr. Naturalist/Mstr. Watershed Steward

Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP)

Latin for Gardeners: June 2019

June’s Native Maryland Plant

 Erigeron pulchellus Michx.

(ih-rij-uh-ron pul-KELL-us)

 Common Name: Robin’s Plaintain


Some of you may know that I’m on a mission to try to grow and learn about every plant in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife publication: Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping. Although it’s unlikely I’ll ever plant every tree mentioned, I’ve got a good start on the other plants. This month I wanted to discuss an herbaceous plant in the guide that is seldom recommended or even mentioned in any other published book that I’ve read: Erigeron pulchellus is a native and very common wildflower. From the information I could gather online it tolerates dry shade, a difficult growing condition, and one I have in my yard; I was interested in its use as a groundcover. Erigeron spp. also has another common name, fleabane, this because it was once thought to thwart fleas.  I wanted to test out the dry shade claim, I read the ‘flea thwarting’ claim had already been disproved.

I planted three of the straight species and some of the selection, Lynnhaven Carpet, named for a river in Virginia where it was found growing and for its ability to cover the ground with its semi-evergreen, pubescent basal foliage. I have been observing it for over three years. It has grown well in both dry shade and in moist sun, although the flower faded and dropped a bit earlier on the plants growing in the shade. I can’t claim to have tested the plants ability to deter fleas, but I can assure you that it does not deter Mayflies - rather it attracts a diversity of pollinators!


Erigeron pulchellus is not a traditional go-to plant and some people have called it a weed in my garden. However, I appreciate its early bloom, benefit to pollinators and the carpet that it has created under trees in my yard, providing weed suppression and erosion control.  Its fluffy seed heads wind-disperse so I am finding it in areas where I did not plant it. More erosion control I think to myself, and more food for pollinators - I’ll leave it for now.


~ Alison Milligan – Mstr. Gardener/Mstr. Naturalist/Mstr. Watershed Steward

Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP)

Reports from the Field: Maintenance Corps at Mt. Moriah

Mt. Moriah after 2.5 hours.JPG

Our Maintenance Corps is getting to work! See the recap of the Corps’ most recent event from Team Lead and Master Watershed Steward Amy Clements below:

On Saturday, June 1, the WSA Maintenance Corps worked with Stewards and parishioners of Mt. Moriah AME Church on Bay Ridge Avenue in Annapolis. The original BMPs were installed as the capstone project of Jim Johnson and Betty Powell, Class 8 Master Watershed Stewards. Phil Colbert, a member of the current Master Watershed Steward class and a Mt. Moriah parishioner, is looking to build on the work done by the Class 8 Stewards.

 The stormwater conveyance we worked in on Saturday was planted along Bay Ridge Avenue which makes it highly visible to drivers and pedestrians. The group of 17 stewards and volunteers and the 2 WSA staff, Noelle and Josh, were able to make a huge difference at the site. We shoveled and disposed of the parking lot sediment which clogged the curb cut inlets. We removed many weeds, identified and welcomed volunteer native plants and cleared choking weeds from the remarkably healthy plants which have survived in this urban church lot. A few of the church volunteers cleared out the mid-parking lot BMP after seeing what we removed and what we kept in the street-side BMP.  We edged the planted area so the grass cutter would have an obvious line between garden and lawn. Steward Greg Brennan even divided and replanted some native seedlings!

 We did learn a few things on Saturday which might be helpful in future maintenance projects. Bring water in a big jug along with paper cups for those who don’t bring their own water. Bring a variety of snacks. Traffic cones are a necessity when the site is along a busy road like Bay Ridge Avenue. It is essential to have at least one person on site who can identify plants vs weeds and it was terrific having WSA support at this early maintenance project. Tools needed for these events are: flat shovels for removing sediment, flat rakes for smoothing or contouring the slopes and for removing leaves and debris, hand tools for weeding and a set of clippers – because who doesn’t need at least one set of clippers?

 The best part, as always, was working with so many enthusiastic volunteers. The Mt. Moriah folks removed all the bags of sediment, bags of weeds and took care of the removal of all trash. The Church was a great partner.

 A big thank you to the 10 Master Watershed Stewards, the 6 volunteers (including a munchkin, Nolan), the 5 members of Mt. Moriah AME congregation and the 2 WSA staff. You all made it a pleasure.

 The next event is going to be in Glen Burnie on Saturday, June 22 at 9:00 AM at the Empowering Believers Church, 7566 E. Howard Rd. Contact Amy Clements for information at or 410-279-5554. Hope to see lots of you there!

Cleaning Up.JPG