Native Plant Society to host Pawlukiewicz presentation

The Northern Neck Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society (NNVNPS) will meet Thursday, April 21, at the Lancaster Community Library, 16 Town Centre Drive, Kilmarnock.

This is the first live presentation, public meeting in two years, reported past president Kevin Howe.

The meeting will begin at noon and folks are invited to bring a sandwich; some snacks and drinks will be provided. Following announcements, the presentation will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Janet Pawlukiewicz will present “Turf to Natives: A Transformation in Virginia Beach.” A former resident of the Northern Neck, she now lives at Westminster Canterbury on the Chesapeake Bay.

Pawlukiewicz has a bachelor’s in biology from Long Island University and a master’s in public administration from The George Washington University. Following a career at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Water Program, and the Trust for Public Land, she and her husband, Michael, moved to the Northern Neck and then to Virginia Beach.

“Active for many years with our NNVNPS Chapter, Janet was instrumental and the project lead for our chapter’s Go Native, Grow Native campaign along with several publications including the first edition of the Guide to the Native Plant of the Northern Neck,” said president Nancy Garvey. “This essential guide to Northern Neck native plants was expanded and updated and will be available free at the April 21st meeting for the first time.”

Pawlukiewicz also served on the state Board of the Virginia Native Plant Society as first vice president.

At Westminster Canterbury, she found a large unappealing turf area between her building and the bay and jumped on the building’s landscaping committee, becoming the chairperson. Leading the charge for change over the past three years, she oversaw the conversion of approximately 2.5 acres to native plant gardens.

“There are very disturbing trends that drive us,” said  Pawlukiewicz . “A staggering number of birds and insects have died off in the last 40 years, so the primary goal of this transformation has been to create wildlife habitat while beautifying the campus. Create the native plant garden and it will be filled with birds and other wildlife. And no fertilizer, no pesticides.”

She will showcase the conversion of 2.5 acres of barren turf to native plant gardens, creating wildlife habitat and beautifying the sandy, windy site on the Bay. Among the successes of this endeavor has been the formation of a butterfly club among residents and the appearance of the Southern Plains Bumble Bee, a species with decline in both population (14%) and distribution (range reduced 30%) over the past decade.

The Chapter’s April Plant of the Month will be introduced by conservation and horticulture chair Betsy Washington. The plant is the pawpaw, Asimina triloba, known for its tasty fall fruit and which is blooming now.