Room for Nature at Pleasant Grove

Wildflowers are in bloom now; from sneezeweed and daisy fleabane, to wild coreopsis, black-eyed Susan, yarrow, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, chicory and cinquefoil, there are literally dozens of native blooming plants to enjoy, and a multitude of pollinators to watch.

“People who run or ride the trails have been telling me that they almost never fail to see wildlife while they are out on the trails,” said Hussy, who added that the winding trails are purposefully designed to encourage wildlife to be where hikers can see them.  Hussy added that aside from the usual birds and rabbits, there have been a few bear sightings at Pleasant Grove as well.

Management of the meadow environments is an ongoing project, with the possibility of a controlled burn in the near future.  “It would be a collaboration with folks who have a lot of experience with controlled burns,” said Hussy.  “It would benefit everyone.  Obviously the meadow benefits by being naturally managed; the local firefighters would benefit from the training experience, and the Forest Service and the Department of Recreation and Conservation – who regularly work with the state and national park service – will have the chance to teach us how this is done.  The wildflower patches, the newly-planted trees that rim the meadows, and the bluebird boxes will be saturated with water and protected from the fire.”


The pollinator garden at Pleasant Grove, near the community garden, is meant to teach by example.  “The pollinator garden is meant to be a demonstration garden about your home landscape,” explained Hussy.  “There are four different landscape designs planted there that the home gardener can copy. The idea is if you would like to do this at your house, you can use native plants.  It really proves that native plants draw pollinators – native bees like mason bees; wasps, hornets, butterflies and occasionally hummingbirds can all be found there.

“We put in about 200 native plants this year,” Hussy said, “and we had 500 plus from last year that came back really well.”  He credited volunteers from the Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, Girl Scouts – and average citizens – with making the garden a success.  “We just need for more people to know about it,” Hussy said.  “We need to get the word out.  It is a terrific resource right here at Pleasant Grove.”  He gave a nod to Sue Tepper of the Master Gardeners for taking the helm on the project.

Hussy also talked about a professional landscape designer who was astonished to see the pollinator garden, and who said he would be bringing potential clients out to see exactly how their own gardens could look.

All of the work in the pollinator garden has been done by volunteers, and the plants and seeds donated by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Native Plant Society.


In the back end of the summer kitchen at Pleasant Grove, a new display is taking shape. “We wanted to have a display where children and adults could participate in nature and get educated about what is in the park, and then head outside to the trails and pay closer attention to what they see,” said Hussy.

Currently they have only a few items on display – a deer skull with antlers, a hornet’s nest, and a handful of turkey feathers.  “Until we receive the proper permits, those are the only kinds of things we can display,” explained Hussy.  Without the permits, they may only display items from game animals or insects.  Once they have the permit, they will be able to display other things found at the park, but Hussy has some advice for visitors, “Leave it alone,” he recommended.  “Make a note of where you see it, and come back to the office at Pleasant Grove and let them know where it is, and then one of our people who are licensed will be able to go out and collect it if it is something we would like to display.  Otherwise, we will leave it where it is and make note of it; we can tell visitors to the park where to look for it.”

In the works are plans for a Discovery Room at the Fluvanna County Library that would have items and information for children and their parents; stuffed animals and field guides so that families could leave the library and follow the forest trail behind the library, where the Girl Scouts did a tree identification project; or the meadow next to the library, which Hussy said is one of the best places to see wildlife in the entire park.  “It would be a wonderful way for a family to spend an afternoon,” Hussy said.

“Pleasant Grove was once a farm,” said Hussy, “but now, nature is taking it back over.”  With Hussy in charge, and with the dedication and hard work of volunteers who care about their community and the environment, Pleasant Grove Park will continue to evolve into a wild environment suitable for families.

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