VIKA MD started the year with a lofty goal celebrating our 40th year with 40 acts of community involvement and charity. January and February were very busy and we carried that into March. Then, well, we all know what hit. But that hasn’t stopped us and we’re sharing some of our latest efforts over the next couple blogs to introduce our colleagues and clients to some great, deserving organizations.
One of our favorite programs, Weed Warriors through the Montgomery County Department of Parks had to cancel their events, but we got in a day of invasive species removals at Rock Creek Regional Park Lake Frank.
We were eager to save Maryland’s native plants, including amazing native orchids (below), from invasive species such as Japanese barberry, privet, multiflora rose, and numerous vines. Although some VIKA employees are new to the landscape industry Josh Sloan and Sherry Mitchell guided the group and quickly taught everyone how to spot what should stay and what should go.
Our focus was on Barberry, a spiky shrub that spreads through suckers and berries. Although tough to uproot since the spikes were a bit aggressive and unforgiving, the team used weed wrenches to pull them up by the roots to give space for native species to breathe and grow.
For quite a long while, species like barberry and multi-flora rose have been crowding out and killing the natives, slowly and – without or intervention – inexorably causing ecosystem collapse. Our group checked that trajectory and began the long process of reclaiming this space for wildlife habitat. If you see this plant pictured here, lend a (well-gloved) hand and rip it out and replace it with something beautiful and native like the small purple ninebarks.
Once we were under the lockdown, VIKA MD switched its focus on helping others through donations and our first efforts were with the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless and Germantown Help by collecting and donating food, including non-perishables, canned food, and essential items like paper towels and trash bags.
These organizations do a great job for our community: providing food, helping with prescriptions, and providing school support to people in need. More than at any time in recent memory, we feel it’s imperative to help our neighbors who have lost jobs, are struggling with childcare, and trying their best to stay safe and healthy.
We encourage everyone to check out these fantastic organizations and get involved however you can. Until Weed Warriors is back, take a look around your own garden and replace some invasive plants with some native flowers. If you’re fortunate enough to have kept healthy, safe, and employed, maybe a donation is possible. We and our community appreciate everything you do and look forward to sharing info on more of our efforts to help soon!